Knowledge for better food systems

Study: quantitative evidence of metaphoric association between meat and maleness

The findings of this study are unlikely to surprise anyone – the research is based on experiments carried out in the US and the UK and finds that there is a strong connection in people’s minds between eating meat—especially muscle meat, like steak—and masculinity.


Metaphors are increasingly recognized as influencing cognition and consumption.  While these linkages typically have been qualitatively generated, this article presents a framework of convergent quantitative methodologies that can further document the validity of a metaphor.  To illustrate this multimethod framework, the authors explore whether there is  a metaphoric  link between meat and maleness in Western cultures.  The authors address this in six quantifiable studies that involve 1. implicit associations, 2. free associations, 3. indirect-scenario based inferences, 4. direct measurement profiling, 5. preference and choice and 6. linguistic analysis and conclude that there is a metaphoric relationship between mammal muscle meat and maleness.


Rozin P, Hormes J M, Faith M S and Wansink B (2012). Is Meat Male? A Quantitative Multi-Method Framework to Establish Metaphoric Relationships. Journal of Consumer Research

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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