Grandma's kitchen : an evolutionary perspective on gender differences in meal preparations
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Appetite: the journal for research on intake, its control and its consequence. - London
, p. 525-
University of Antwerp
Traditionally, in most cultures, women have had primary responsibility for food purchasing and preparation throughout human history, creating gender differences in the kitchen. However, in the past decades, time devoted to preparing meals seems to be shifting to more equal gender roles in young households. Nevertheless, an evolutionary psychological perspective would predict that, even under these circumstances, gender differences will persistently occur in motives for preparing meals for others. This would be especially true in a context of human courtship, where women's relationship investment, on average, is more driven by motives of care and long-term commitment, while men, on average, more than women, wish to impress their partner, and signal their resources. Hence, while women might cook to care for others, men might be more likely to cook meals to impress others, for instance by investing more budget into fancier meals. Studies on traditional households partly support this, presenting men's cooking as only for special occasions. Based on a self-administered survey among 105 Belgian students (38 males, 67 females, Mage = 20.95, s.d. = 1.46), results show that girls significantly (p < .01) spend more time on preparing meals, especially when it concerns cooking for family members, and they more often make use of family recipes. But in a context of cooking for (potential) lovers, no gender differences in time devoted to cooking were found, and both boys and girls reported to use their cooking skills to care for others, and less so, but still equal, to impress others.