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A Strange Study

Here’s an odd story out of Montreal that caught my eye.

The research was conducted with 82 male subjects who were asked to inflict varying degrees of punishment on actors if they made errors while reading scripts. It was presented as a multi-tasking study to the subjects, who are sorting various pictures while the actors read.

The punishment was made by subjecting the script reader to various volumes of sound, the highest levels believed by the subjects to be painful for the reader. The subjects were less likely to attempt to inflict pain on the reader if it was an image of meat they were looking at while the mistake was made.

It was a typical type of test for assessing aggression, the researchers said.

I wouldn’t expect those results since many people who don’t eat meat choose not to do so specifically to avoid cruelty to animals.  But then, we have the notion of comfort food in our culture. For me, comfort foods include dishes made with meat and I’m sure at least part of that is that has to do with those foods harkening back to comfortable childhood times – mom’s meatloaf brings back warm memories of mom making dinner for our family, and pulling the wonderful smelling meatloaf from the oven.

Curiously, no major differences were reported in the responses of vegetarians in the experiments.

I wonder if there are practical applications to the study? For instance, would having pictures of meat in a room used for mediations ease the aggression of participants? Strange idea.


  1. Love this story. Mood is directly effected by diet…all those people with depression…look at their diet…often they eat tons of carbs. There used to be an idea that protein would treat and cure seizures. Fat is food for the brain. Fish is also good for brain. So it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some kind of pavlov response to seeing meat…I think your idea of comfort food is close to an idea to follow…

  2. Patience

    Then my oldest boy must be practically a lump of inert mush as he puts 60 hours a week in at a butcher shop.

  3. Is this why you told Tuffy that kobasa was a root vegetable? (Keeping that insane aggression of hers under control once in a while?)

  4. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    Wow that changes everything. The possibilities are endless. For example those ugly dark blue police uniforms would be more effective in a nice rump roast print. Pink and pale green on institutional (and prison) walls would be replaced with lamb chop wallpaper. Walking downtown and about to be mugged? Whip out a pork chop! Martha we need you here! Some study into what sorts of things increase aggressiveness would be interesting. I know for example that drivers (even chartered accountants) who see the back of my car suddenly think they are race car drivers and risk all to get past me. I wonder if the back end of a VW incites more aggression than say the back end of a Toyota. These are things that need study. And grants.

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