Study: Looking at Meat Calms People Down

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Well now, here is some science to start off your day: According to a study at McGill University, looking at meat calms people down. This surprised researcher Frank Kachanoff, who went into the experiment thinking that meat would make people more aggressive, seeing as it is made of dead animals. Good for Kachanoff for publishing results that contradicted his hypothesis.

We’re not totally in love with the study’s methodology, though:

Globe and Mail:

Kachanoff recruited 82 men and asked them to punish an aide with various volumes of sound each time he made an error while sorting photos, some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral images. The researcher had anticipated participants who watched the aide sort meat photos would inflict more discomfort on him, but he was surprised when those pictures did not provoke aggressive behaviour.

“[W]ith the benefit of hindsight, it would make sense that our ancestors would be calm, as they would be surrounded by friends and family at meal time,” Kachanoff said in a press release.

While this is a clever way to combine meat and punishment, it seems to remove from the (literally) visceral experience that is meat: Rather than being directly exposed to it, the participants were watching a guy who was looking at pictures of meat. Issues of refrigeration aside, why not, say, expose the punishers to either meat or, say ricecakes, right there in their room, and have them punish the aide? And what about vegetarians? Cool thing to examine nevertheless, and while this is the sort of story that gets lumped into the Oddly Enough sections of newspapers and websites (including ours to an extent, admittedly), such things can serve as the little building blocks on which grander theories of evolutionary biology are built.

(Globe and Mail via Slashdot)

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