When you see meat, such as a juicy turkey on your Thanksgiving table, it would seem to be reasonable to believe that we'd start acting more aggresively and display more signs of cavemen behavior, such as aggression and assuming protective postures, in order to "keep our Thanksgiving kill.".
Kachanoff, a researcher with a special interest in evolution at McGill University’s Department of Psychology, thought the same. "He thought the sight of meat on the table would make people more aggressive, not less. After all, don’t football coaches feed their players big hunks of red meat before a game in hopes of pumping them up? And what about our images of a grunting or growling animal snarling at anyone who dares take their meat away from them? Wouldn’t that go for humans, too?"
"“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.”
To test his "cavewo/man hypothesis, McGill went out - like any good scientist would and conducted a scientific study. To his surprise the results proved to be the exact opposite of what he had originally thought. Instead of becoming more aggressive at the sight of a "Thanksgiving Turkey" people tended to become more relaxed and laid back.
That the sight of meat would illicit aggressive behaviour seems to make sense as it would have helped our primate ancestors survive -- with hunting, co-opting and protecting their meat. Like any good man would do for his family or future family. Kachanoff thought that humans would likely therefore have developed an innate predisposition to respond aggressively when meat was in their vicinity.
The experiment consisted of 82 males. Kachanoff used established techniques to provoke and then measuring aggression. "The subjects 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, they were very surprised by the results."
In retrospect the scientist realized that perhaps the problem was that the meat was already prepared. He'd like to test the hypothesis again but the next time he want's to use "raw meat" instead. When serving your Thanksgiving Turkey you may want to do your own study and cook one Turkey really well and have another one that's raw.
The following Thanksgiving article may be of interest to you: