Canadian research says men enjoy food more if waitress is attractive

From exotic ingredients to the perfect setting, restaurants make every effort to attract diners.

But if they really want to make their meals taste delicious, it could be as simple as hiring an attractive waitress.

A study has found some men believe nice food tastes better when it is served up by someone pretty, although a handsome waiter makes no difference to women.

This, scientists say, is because physically attractive women can change mens’ expectations about what they are about to experience in a restaurant.

When dining out in a restaurant, the attractiveness of a waitress makes a a huge difference. If the meal is good and the waitress is pretty, then men tend to enjoy it more, but the opposite is true too (stock image)

Canadian researchers found men rated what they had as more delicious when it was brought by a woman wearing make-up with her hair down, as opposed to a tired-looking woman with bad skin and her hair up.

When shown pictures of attractive women, they thought a glass of orange juice was sweeter, less bitter and more likeable. 

An attractive woman raised their expectations of a dining experience even before sitting down to eat.

The research, by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Canada, states: ‘The current research shows that the presence of physically attractive individuals can affect consumers’ expectations about their consumption experience which then influences taste perceptions.’ 

The authors, led by Dr Lily Lin, add: ‘When the server is attractive, good food tastes better but bad food tastes worse.’ 

Men were shown by the study to be more shallow than women, after rating the attractiveness of waiting staff as more important for enjoying a meal. 

A survey of 195 people of both sexes found women were far more interested in the location and noisiness of the restaurant.

In a follow-up experiment of 603 people, men shown pictures of an attractive waitress at a restaurant, and then the menu, rated their expected dining experience more highly than if the waitress was unattractive. 

The attractiveness of the waiters had no impact on women’s expectations of their meal.

To judge how things actually tasted, researchers gave 61 men a glass of orange juice or a less tasty yeast-based vegetable spread on a cracker while they looked at pictures of attractive or unattractive women.

The study found that this phenomenon only occurs in men, as women seem immune to letting their attraction to a person influencing their taste buds (stock image)

The study found that this phenomenon only occurs in men, as women seem immune to letting their attraction to a person influencing their taste buds (stock image)

Men rated the juice as less bitter, sweet and nicer when looking at an attractive woman. The study suggests there is a ‘spill over’ effect, so looking at someone attractive makes food more attractive too.

But restaurants should beware that a good-looking waitress can make the food taste worse if it is bad.

Men given the vegetable spread disliked it more when looking at a beautiful woman, perhaps because of the mismatch between her looks and its taste.

The study, published in the Journal of Retailing, also found men given the vegetable spread cracker by a woman wearing lipstick and mascara, with her hair down, rated it as more delicious on a scale of one to 15.

They liked it less when served by a woman made up to look as if she had acne, eye bags and yellow teeth, with her hair up.

The study is the first of its kind, and the authors conclude: ‘Despite the wealth of evidence that attractive servers generally enhance the overall experience, to our knowledge no work has examined whether this cue has an effect on sensory perceptions like taste – an outcome that is of obvious interest to restaurants since repeat consumption is less likely after an unsatisfactory dining experience.’ 


Major restaurant chains, including McDonalds and TGI Fridays are installing specially-designed sound systems that make customers spend as much as 10 per cent more, it was revealed last year.

The system, called Soundtrack Your Brand, plays music that reflects a brand’s values, evoking a range of positive emotions in customers and increasing guest satisfaction.

Researchers from HUI Research, a research-based consulting firm in Stockholm, conducted the largest ever academic study of background music, to design the system.

While most restaurants play music in an attempt to shape their customers’ experience, they choose their songs casually and without much thought.

But the researchers believed that the right music could have a huge return for restaurants.

Over the course of five months, across 16 McDonalds restaurants in Sweden, the researchers analysed a pool of nearly two million unique transactions.

The researchers compared the sales impact of playing a carefully selected choice of music that fit the chain’s brand, with playing random popular music.

The results showed that the difference was 9.1 per cent over the period of the study.

Music that fit the brand made customers more likely to buy additional items than if the restaurant played random popular music.

The formula for success appeared to be a mix of popular and less known songs that still had a good brand fit.