Interpersonal consequences of joint food consumption for connection and conflict

Kaitlin Woolley, Sarah Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


For centuries, the preparation and eating of a meal has brought people together, making food consumption an inherently social process. Yet the way in which people connect over food is changing. Rising health concerns, due in part to the increase in food allergies and obesity, have shifted attention away from the social aspects of food to food's nutritional aspects. Recognizing the social context in which food consumption takes place, this article reviews research highlighting the interpersonal consequences of joint food consumption. We first examine research on how sharing food connects people together, both via the type of food consumed (e.g., incidental food similarity) and the manner in which people serve and eat food (e.g., from shared vs. separate plates). We then turn to research that addresses the opposite side of the coin, discussing how the inability to share in a meal can be isolating, as well as how people navigate conflicting preferences when making food decisions with others. We conclude with a discussion of promising future directions for research on joint food consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12748
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • commensality
  • food consumption
  • food preference
  • food preference
  • interpersonal closeness
  • negotiation
  • social eating
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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