Researchers find chimps, like people, can be fooled into overeating

Sep 04, 2013

(Phys.org) —Many of us can think of a time when we've eaten more food than we wanted, especially around the holidays.

Now, research at Georgia State University shows also suffer from this common human problem – their eyes can fool their stomachs.

Over-eating sometimes is linked to our , which can trick us into thinking there is more (or less) than there really is. A slice of cake on a small dinner plate can look larger than the exact same piece of cake on a larger plate, for example.

Research with humans has shown equal food portions were misperceived on the basis of the dinner plate on which they were presented, leading to over-serving and over- from large plates and under-serving and under-consumption from small plates.

Researchers Audrey Parrish and Michael Beran have found chimpanzees also misperceive food amounts based on plate size.

Chimpanzees from Georgia State's Language Research Center participated in a study in which they chose between two amounts of a highly , presented on either identical or different-sized plates. The chimpanzees were very good at selecting the larger food portion when both choices were presented on the same-sized plates.

However, they made the same mistakes people sometimes make when the food portions were presented on different-sized plates (a small plate versus a large plate). When equal portions were presented on different-sized plates, the chimpanzees preferred the small plate to the large plate even though they both contained the same amount of food.

And sometimes, when a smaller food portion was on a small plate and a larger portion was on a large plate, the chimpanzees chose the smaller amount, presumably because it looked larger when it filled up a greater portion of the plate it sat on.

These results demonstrate people share a common with, at minimum, our closest living relative, the chimpanzee.

"Here, we see similar behaviors from chimpanzees as we see with humans," Parrish said. "But chimpanzees misperceive food sizes despite having limited cultural norms or experiences with dinnerware compared to humans."

She further noted that these results "suggest that it might be harder to convince the stomach to ignore the eyes than we would hope to be true, as this illusion seems to occur across species."

The research findings have been published in a paper in the journal Animal Cognition titled "When less is more: Like humans, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) misperceive food amounts based on plate size."

Explore further: How foods are 'sized' affects how much we eat

More information: link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10071-013-0674-3#page-1

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

12 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...