The Fitness Zone
Researchers from the University of Utah conducted a field study in an Italian restaurant, in which diners were provided with either a smaller or a larger fork. Those eating with the smaller forks surprisingly ate more food than their larger forked counterparts.
Study authors Arul Mishra, Himanshu Mishra and Tamara Masters said In this research we examined the influence of small versus large bite-sizes on overall quantity of food consumed.
Investigating the reasons for their findings, which contradicted previous portion size research findings from a laboratory environment, the authors reported, We observe that diners visit the restaurant with a well-defined goal of satiating their hunger and because of this well-defined goal they are willing to invest effort and resources to satiate their hunger goal." Explaining why the field study results appeared to contradict the lab study, the researchers expressed their belief that those involved in the artificial setting lacked the goal of satiating their hunger the core driver of the field study group.
The problem then, appears to be an inability to accurately gauge when hunger has been sated relying instead on visual cues; The fork size provided the diners with a means to observe their goal progress. The physiological feedback of feeling full or the satiation signal comes with a time lag. In its absence, diners focus on the visual cue of whether they are making any dent on the food on their plate to assess goal progress.
The study authors advocated consciously attempting to develop an awareness of hunger cues; People do not have clear internal cues about the appropriate quantity to consume. They allow external cues, such as fork size, to determine the amount they should consume.
Source: Journal of Consumer Research