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.