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Time: Why salads feel feminine and nachos seem manly

September 14, 2015 — 

Time writes about a new study by Luke Zhu, assistant professor at the Asper School of Business, that finds that even food packaging is aligned with gender stereotypes. The paper, titled “Macho Nachos”, suggests that the gendered ways a food is packaged might even influence how people think it tastes.

“There’s a cultural stereotype that women tend to eat more healthfully than men,” says lead researcher Luke Zhu, assistant professor in the department of business administration at the University of Manitoba in Canada. It all goes back to the idea of priming: how culture often imprints concepts in our minds. Eating a salad is “what society thinks women should do,” Zhu says, while having a hankering for a cheeseburger is masculine.

In the first of a series of experiments, Zhu and his team asked 93 adults which foods they considered masculine and feminine: baked chicken versus fried chicken, baked potatoes versus French fries, light potato chips versus regular potato chips, and baked fish versus fried fish. The results showed, unsurprisingly, that there was a significant tie to food and gender perception. People were more likely to see the unhealthier options as masculine and the healthier options as more feminine.

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