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    Eat More Meat, Be Less Aggressive
    By News Staff | November 7th 2010 11:05 PM | 10 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Know why vegetarians are so angry?  They don't eat meat, it seems.  So this Thanksgiving, grab the turkey leg and tear off a hunk of flesh with your teeth and rationalize that evolutionary psychology thinks it made your cavemen ancestors nicer people.

    Frank Kachanoff , an undergraduate student in McGill University’s Department of Psychology, says that contrary to the image of athletes and carnivorous animals in the wild as hyper-aggressive,  meat appears to make human beings significantly less aggressive. “I was inspired by research on priming and aggression, that has shown that just looking at an object which is learned to be associated with aggression, such as a gun, can make someone more likely to behave aggressively. I wanted to know if we might respond aggressively to certain stimuli in our environment not because of learned associations, but because of an innate predisposition. I wanted to know if just looking at the meat would suffice to provoke an aggressive behavior.”

    He doesn't need to do a study to know guns make people less aggressive either.  Research shows an armed society is a polite society and the countries of Scotland, Wales and England, where guns are banned, lead western civilization in crime.

    To anthropologists, the idea that associating meat with aggressive behavior makes sense, as it would have helped our primate ancestors with hunting  and protecting their meat resources.   Evolutionary psychologists believe humans have innate reflexes which determine societal trends and personal behavior.   Kachanoff speculates that humans may have 'evolved' (sure to make biologists crazy with rage) an innate predisposition to respond aggressively towards meat, so he recruited fellow males to test his hypothesis.

    The experiment involved 82 subjects who had to punish a script reader every time he made an error while sorting photos, some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral imagery. The subjects believed that they could inflict various volumes of sound, including 'painful', to the script reader, which he would hear after his performance. While the research team figured that the group sorting pictures of meat would inflict more discomfort on the reader, that was not the case.

    “We used imagery of meat that was ready to eat. In terms of behaviour, with 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 explained. “I would like to run this experiment again, using hunting images. Perhaps Thanksgiving next year will be a great opportunity for a do-over!”

    Kachanoff’s research was carried out under the direction of Dr. Donald Taylor and Ph.D student Julie Caouette of McGill’s Department of Psychology and was presented at the university’s annual undergraduate science symposium.

    Comments

    Title misrepresents research. Research says, "Look at meat, be less aggressive". Eating was not measured.

    Hank
    Using the word 'research' is a misrepresentation.  Evolutionary psychology in general is hokum and speculating that humans have an evolved response to meat, visual or otherwise, is a far greater scientific crime than a title that is even more ridiculous than the survey it's about.    What's funnier is when the results showed the opposite of the hypothesis they then decided that was what made the most science sense.
    I think the key weasel phrase in here is "in general". At the lizard-brain level (fight/flight/f***), I think we've got some honed-by-evolution wiring. But otherwise, yeah, never mind the title, how would you know the difference between nature and nurture (where "nurture" includes decades of exposure to "beef: it's what's for dinner", "here's to good friends, tonight is kind of special, dum-de-dum-de-dum....", etc.).

    Hello,

    Thank you for your interest in this research. For for more information, you may wish to consult the original press release at https://home.mcgill.ca/newsroom/news/item/?item_id=169419

    William Raillant-Clark
    Communications Officer - Scientific Research, Media Relations
    Agent de communications - Recherche scientifique, Service des relations avec les médias
    McGill University - Université McGill
    MONTRÉAL
    514-398-2189 (office/bureau)
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/raillantclark

    Gerhard Adam
    What research?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Yes, it seemed just a way to send people to the university media site even though this was written from their press release.  Since there's no paper on this but rather an undergraduate's study there isn't much more to learn.
    Aitch
    The experiment involved 82 subjects who had to punish a script reader every time he made an error while sorting photos, some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral imagery. The subjects believed that they could inflict various volumes of sound, including 'painful', to the script reader, which he would hear after his performance. While the research team figured that the group sorting pictures of meat would inflict more discomfort on the reader, that was not the case.

    Isn't this a re-run of Milgram, again?

    Numbskull psychologists at play, is all I see

    Aitch
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, perhaps the next project will focus on whether there is more aggression associated with beef, than chicken.  After all, humans probably 'evolved' more aggression towards larger game animals than smaller ones.  Maybe that means eating fish is the most relaxing food?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Oh, I don't know....

    I once had trouble reeling in a cabbage - teasing, OK?!

    Aitch
    What a load of crap, no real research or evidence, too many assumptions and jumping to conclusions... A really poor article to say the least.