Want to build trust? Order the same food

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If you want to click with a client, connect on a first date or close a big sale, it isn’t a bad idea to break bread with someone. But if you’re smart, you’ll order the same food as the other person.

In a series of four experiments, researchers at the University of Chicago found that when people see each other eat the same thing, it makes them more willing to trust their co-eaters with money and quicker to negotiate an agreement. The findings, published in a new paper, have implications for anyone who wants to win friends and influence people.

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In the first experiment, 176 volunteers in a simulated investment game were assigned to be either investors or fund managers. Investors were given $3 and told that it would automatically double if they gave it to a fund manager—but the manager could return all, none or some of the windfall. When investors and managers sat together and ate the same type of candy—a variety chosen by the researchers—investors entrusted 29 percent more money to the managers than when the two parties ate different candy.

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