Food choice can serve as a social shibboleth, whereby information about what an individual eats affords insight into her cultural background and social relationships. We provide evidence for an early-emerging system linking food preferences to social identity. Infants expect people to share food preferences, unless those people belong to different groups, suggesting human reasoning about food preferences is fundamentally social. However, infants generalize disgust toward a food even across people who belong to different groups, suggesting that infants are particularly vigilant to social information that might signal danger. This research opens new lines of investigation regarding infant social cognition and food selection across the lifespan, and has implications for social policy surrounding nutrition, heath, and obesity.

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