Saturday, November 17, 2018

Your Thanksgiving Turkey Brings Out the Caveman In You

by TonyBerkman (editor), Costa Rica, November 10, 2011

Credit: CC
Caveman's Thanksgiving Bird

Perhaps this innate behavior is why we get so excited about Thanksgiving Turkey. Scientists at McGill University did a study of whether seeing your Thanksgiving Bird brings out the cavemen in you.

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?"

As Kachanooff states:

"“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:

Over the River & Into Hell We Go ... a Thankgsgiving Tale

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7 comments on Your Thanksgiving Turkey Brings Out the Caveman In You

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By Uttam Gill on November 11, 2011 at 12:32 am

Found very interesting and certainly would like to say that kachanooff research is subject to conjectures...The misleading assumption of aggression of a cave man is presumed and painted as devilish makes me to pose one question...were they really so aggressive as it has been conventionally believed...Let’s be fair to them..With due regard to Kachanoff I beg to differ with the presumption over which the research was structured...My pertinent questions are who are the worse aggressor...cave man or we present day human being...If anyone who will analysis this would not look into the cave man as comparison...We need to see the well seated hatred in the mind of human being and that is only conceived by present day man...

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By TonyBerkman on November 11, 2011 at 02:06 am

UG you raise interesting observations about conjectures and our belief systems. I believe your recommendation would make for a much more interseting study. He is wasting the universities' money.

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By Lynda Lehmann on November 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

Serve me a raw turkey and I'll throw a tantrum!

I do believe that hunger (or food lust) can provoke not only irritability, but true aggression. Ask me about my rage when someone who promised to leave it, steals the "last cookie!"

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By Angie Alaniz on November 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I totally agree with you Lynda.

I think the sight of meat on the table would make people more aggressive only depending on how hungry they are and how good it looks to eat. Because I don't know about you, but if I am very hungry and the food or meat doesn't look that good the only aggressiveness I feel is anger due to the cook not knowing how to cook. :)

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By Lynda Lehmann on November 11, 2011 at 02:31 pm

Angie, you'd probably be angry at me, a lot, lol!

I remember one time in particular when I was angry and disappointed with a relative who told me the delicious details of a beef barley soup she was going to serve me and hubby after a 3-hour ride to visit her on a COLD winter's day.

When we arrived there were two COLD tuna sandwiches on the table. We inquired about the promised soup, and were told that it was SOOOO good that she "ate it all week"!

Indeed it was gone, along with at least part of my good will! ;)

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By Angie Alaniz on November 11, 2011 at 03:57 pm

The only thing I am angry about is that you didn't sock that woman? - A 3 hour drive to visit her on a cold winter day and you get tuna sandwiches? Get real, with or without the promised soup she deserved a punch in the nose especially after the "I ate it all week cause it was sooooo good" comment.

Hey, food is serious as Tony suggests above. lol


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By Celestyna88 on July 04, 2014 at 04:20 am

That is so special finestre

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