How Does My Friend Being Obese Influence My Weight?

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Well there are lots of laboratory studies that show that we unconsciously imitate the behavior of people who are near us. So just for example if I bring you into a room and I seat you next to someone who is eating more and the room next door where someone is eating less, you'll eat more by randomly getting you next to a stranger, you'll eat more.

There's a big literature on mindless eating. And one thing we know is that just unconsciously we tend to imitate the actions of those around us. With strong social behavior, that's spreading across hundreds of miles that can't be the only explanation because you're not seeing your friend eating all the time.

So we really think this is about our ideas, our norms, what we think of as appropriate behavior and one thing that economists have found is that we actually have changed our idea of what is normal over the last 10 years how much things have been changing that we think normal now is a higher level.

And so if your only goal is to get back to normal, you might not be going back as far because now we think as normal at a much higher level and so this is another thing that spreads but because it's an idea, it can spread over the telephone, it can spread over the internet, maybe the kind of thing, that you transmit, between you, and your friend once or twice a year, maybe you get together for Thanksgiving, and you see how your friend's behaving, and you hear about all the kinds things they have been doing, over these years and has to go impact on how you think about your own behavior.