Birgit Stürmer, Guang Ouyang, Marina Palazova, Annekathrin Schacht, Manuel Martín-Loeches, Philip Rausch and Werner Sommer

Lunching for Relaxation or Cognitive Control? After-Effects of Social and Solitary Meals.

Advances in Cognitive Psychology

Meals, especially when taken in company, may affect the diner’s mood. In line with findings that mood may alter cognitive control, a previous study by the authors found that after solitary meals, the Simon effect was diminished as compared to a premeal condition, whereas a social meal did not reduce the Simon effect. Here, we investigated whether this finding generalizes across different demands in cognitive control and, therefore, applied a flanker task. Obtained questionnaire data indicated differential effects in mood and relaxation of a social as compared to a solitary meal. Replicating our previous findings, the flanker compatibility effect decreased after a solitary meal but increased after a social meal. The present results support our previous findings with new evidence that a meal taken in a social context attenuates subsequent cognitive control processes compared with a solitary meal.