Assistant Professor Jordan Troisi was interviewed on July 27 by Alexandra Sifferlin, Public Health writer for Time.com, concerning the research he published earlier that month with three colleagues at The State University of New York, Buffalo [Associate Professor Shira Gabriel, Ph.D.; Research Scientist Jaye Derrick, Ph.D.; Alyssa Geisler, whose senior honors thesis was the basis for Study 1].
Troisi, J. D.; Gabriel, S.; Derrick, J.L.; & Geisler, A. (July 2015). Threatened belonging and preference for comfort food among the securely attached. Appetite, 90, 58-64.
Abstract: Research has shown that comfort food triggers relationship-related cognitions and can fulfill belongingness needs for those secure in attachment (i.e., for those with positive relationship cognitions) (Troisi & Gabriel, 2011). Building on these ideas, we examined if securely attached individuals prefer comfort food because of its “social utility” (i.e., its capacity to fulfill belongingness needs) in one experiment and one daily diary study using two samples of university students from the United States. Study 1 (n = 77) utilized a belongingness threat essay among half of the participants, and the results showed that securely attached participants preferred the taste of a comfort food (i.e., potato chips) more after the belongingness threat. Study 2 (n = 86) utilized a 14-day daily diary design and found that securely attached individuals consumed more comfort food in response to naturally occurring feelings of isolation. Implications for the social nature of food preferences are discussed.
In The Science of Why You Crave Comfort Food, Sifferlin summarized: “It’s not just because these foods are tasty. It’s because they make us feel less alone.” She used her personal experiences along with interviews with Dr. Troisi and an Adjunct Instructor in Psychology at the Virginia Commonwealth University to elaborate. The Time article is listed in Sewanee Mentions on news.sewanee.edu
In 2011, Dr. Troisi and Dr. Gabriel published Chicken soup really is good for the soul: “comfort food” fulfills the need to belong. Psychological Science, 22, 747-753. In that peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), they opened with a quotation from Ernest Hemingway’s 1964 A Moveable Feast . . .
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.