Personality Traits Could Determine If Bowl Size Causes Kids To Want More Food

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

While research published earlier this month found that bigger bowls tend to make children want larger portions of food, a new study suggests that some youngsters may be more susceptible to the phenomenon than others.

In fact, investigators from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab report that kids respond differently to environmental cues, such as plate and bowl size, based on whether they are introverted or extroverted in nature. Their findings appear in the journal PLoS ONE.

As part of their study, the researchers looked at the breakfast behaviors of children between the ages of six and 10. Adults serving the youngsters breakfast gave them a large bowl, asked the kids to indicate how much milk and cereal they wanted, and then served them accordingly. Then on a different day, the children were given either a large or small bowl and were permitted to serve themselves as much cereal and milk as they wanted.

“To determine each child’s personality type, four teachers and counselors rated each child’s degree of introversion and extroversion on a scale of 1 to 9,” officials from the laboratory said. “Researchers used the average of these scores to classify each child as an introvert or an extravert. To measure the amount of food children asked for or served themselves, researchers weighed each student’s serving through scales hidden in the table.”

The researchers then compared the serving sizes for introverts and extraverts, and found that extroverted children were far more likely to be affected by the size of the bowl when getting their own cereal. Those kids served 33.1 percent more breakfast in the large bowl, while introverted youngsters only served themselves 5.6 percent more when the size of the bowl increased.

“This indicates that the extroverted kids were more influenced by the external cue of bowl-size than introverted kids were. This benefit for introverted kids, however, is only present when serving themselves; when served by adults, all kids requested more cereal to fill up the large bowl than the small bowl,” the university said.

“Extroverted children appear to be highly influenced by environmental cues when serving themselves, filling their big bowls to the brim when left in charge of their own portions,” it added. “These extraverts may benefit from having an adult serve. Introverted kids, however, are less likely to base portions on bowl size only when serving themselves, so parents may want to allow young introverts to serve their own food to avoid dish-size bias.”

In the previous study, a team of American and Dutch researchers served 69 preschoolers a sugary cereal in either an eight-ounce bowl or a 16-ounce bowl. The investigators filled the bowl with cereal and milk in small increments, each time asking the kids whether they had enough food or wanted more.

They stopped only when the children indicated that they were happy with the amount of cereal and milk in the bowl. The research revealed that larger bowls correlated to children requesting an average of 87 percent more cereal, regardless of age, gender, and body mass index (BMI). The study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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