The Eastern philosophy of a shared meal has been lost in today’s Western world. Families used to sit around the table, sharing the same dishes, taking only what they needed. This created a bonding experience, and research even shows that these large, family-style meals promote cooperation within the group, and even allow people to recognize the needs of other members of the group, instead of the needs of just the individual. All in all, the family that eats together, stays together.
- Many cultures eat meals at a round table with individual servings of shared dishes, unlike the Western practice of everyone ordering their own entree at a restaurant.
- In one recent test, it was found that “union” and “management role players reached settlements more quickly when they snacked from a shared plate — with similar experiments getting similar results.
- The researchers think that “family style” meals force us to think more about the needs of others, and how our actions impact them.
“Interestingly, cooperation was not explained by an increased feeling of closeness, as sharing the crackers did not increase closeness.”