New research has found that traditional beliefs about gender roles best predicted whether women had gone on dates with persons they are not attracted to in order to get a free meal (foodie calls) and their perceived acceptability. Foodie calls were seen as the most acceptable in the United States with 53% of U.S. women reporting going on foodie calls, compared to 7% in the United Kingdom. The study was published in Psychological Reports.
Dating involves getting to know someone on a personal and often intimate level with the intention of assessing compatibility for a more committed romantic relationship. Although dating norms differ across cultures, dating typically includes going out to eat at restaurants. Due to this, dating also represents a substantial financial investment for many people.
In societies where traditional gender roles are common, such as the United States, men are usually expected to pay the entire bill. In South America, “paying American style” means that the man will pay the total cost of the meal both for himself and for his date. On the other hand, in more egalitarian societies, dating partners are expected to split the cost of the meal. “Going Dutch” refers to the practice of sharing the cost of food equally.
Traditionally, when a man asks a woman to go on a date, it is assumed that the man will cover the cost of the meal. Acceptance of such an invite by the woman suggests that she sees the man at least as a potential romantic interest. However, contrary to these traditional norms, recent surveys have revealed the existence of so-called foodie calls.
A foodie call is “a situation when a person, despite a lack of romantic attraction to a suitor, chooses to go on a date to get a free meal.” These studies reported that 33% of American women engaged in foodie calls, with 25% doing that frequently or very frequently. In spite of this, the majority of women saw foodie calls as extremely or moderately unacceptable.
Study author Mehmet A. Orhan and his colleagues wanted to compare women from Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States with regard to foodie calls. They note that these three countries differ in economic conditions, female workforce participation, and potentially in gender roles. They also wanted to know whether the dark personality traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy — are associated with going on foodie calls.
Participants were 1,838 heterosexual women, 547 from Poland, 308 from the United Kingdom and 983 from the United States. They were recruited through the Amazon MTurk and Prolific services. The average age of Polish participants was 26, while it was 36 for the U.S. and the U.K. participants.
Participants were asked question about whether they went of foodie calls (“Have you ever agreed to date someone (who you were not interested in a relationship with) because he might pay for your meal?”) and how often. They then rated how acceptable they found foodie calls to be (“How acceptable do you think it is to date someone (you were not interested in a relationship with) because he might pay for your meal?”). They also completed assessments of the Dark Triad personality traits (The Dirty Dozen Dark Triad) and traditional gender role beliefs (the Gender Role Beliefs Scale).
Results showed that, 53% of women from the United States reported going on foodie calls, compared to 7% from the United Kingdom and 13% from Poland. Similarly, U.S. participants found foodie calls the most acceptable, while participants from the United Kingdom found them the least acceptable.
Analysis of associations showed that women who reported going on foodie calls tended to find these calls more acceptable, that they accepted traditional gender roles to a higher degree, and that they tended to have higher scores on all three Dark Triad personality traits.
When a statistical model was created for predicting previous foodie calls based on the Dark triad traits and gender roles beliefs, results showed that previous foody calls can best be predicted based on gender role beliefs and narcissism. Gender role beliefs were the strongest predictor.
Participants who accepted traditional gender roles to a higher degree were more likely to go on foodie calls. The same was the case with participants with higher levels of narcissism. Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong desire for admiration and attention, and a lack of empathy for others.
When acceptability of going on foodie calls was examined in the same way, higher acceptance of traditional gender roles and narcissism were again the best predictors, but results also showed that participants lower in psychopathy were somewhat more likely to find going on foodie calls acceptable.
These results differed across samples. In the Polish sample, it was only narcissism that predicted the acceptability of foodie calls. In the U.K. sample, it was not possible to predict acceptability of foodie calls based on these traits, while only narcissism predicted previous going on foodie calls. Being the largest subsample, U.S. results replicated the overall sample, with the only difference being that psychopathy turned out not to be a good predictor of foodie call acceptability.
The study makes an important contribution to the scientific understanding of dating behavior. However, it should be noted that it was based on self-reports and conducted on women recruited through MTurk and Prolific. Results on more representative samples and based on observation of behavior might yield different results.
The study, “Comparing Foodie Calls in Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States: A Registered Replication Report”, was authored by Mehmet A. Orhan, Brian Collisson, Jennifer L. Howell, Marta Kowal, and Thomas V. Pollet.