Here’s What Happens When Strangers Unexpectedly Eat Together At The Airport
A meal naturally brings people together, but does the way a meal is served and consumed further matter for cooperation between people? This research (n = 1476) yielded evidence that it does. People eating from shared plates (i.e., Chinese style meal) cooperated more in social dilemmas and negotiations than those eating from separate plates. Specifically, sharing food from a single plate increased perceived coordination among diners, which in turn led them to behave more cooperatively and less competitively toward each other compared with individuals eating the same food from separate plates. The effect of sharing a plate on cooperation occurred among strangers, which suggests that sharing plates can bring together not only allies, but strangers as well.
That is the abstract from a piece by Kaitlin Woolley of Cornell (PDF), via the estimable Chug, with whom I have shared meals.
Fuchsia Dunlop on Chinese Food, Culture, and Travel (full) | Conversations with Tyler
10 Differences: Asians Eating Out VS. Westerners Eating Out
Also see “table fellowship“