For Americans in today's world, most would agree that bigger is better. Everything in our world is getting bigger including cars, houses, buildings, paychecks, and food portions to name a few. This is not always a good thing. According to our textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, the portion sizes of the food served on plates in restaurants has increased by 25 percent from 1977 to 1996 in the United States. (Pg 434) This is a ridiculous amount, which is most likely the driving force for our society's obesity problem.
One question that could come up is why would increasing the portion sizes and the sizes of utensils in restaurants cause people to eat more? If you were full, wouldn't you simply stop eating? The answer to this question comes from the internal-external theory proposed by Stanley Schachter. His theory says that the reason that people tend to eat more when there is a larger portion of food present or from larger utensils (bowls, plates, cups, etc) is because they are motivated to eat more by external cues, like portion size and the size of the utensils, rather than internal cues, like the feeling of being full. A great real life example of this can be seen in this video.
As you can see by this video, the people from both groups said they ate enough ice cream to be satisfied, even though they ate different amounts. The reason for this is because they were motivated by the external cues, the sizes of their bowls and spoons, instead of listening to their internal cues from their bodies. So there you have it, bigger isn't always better. If you are trying to watch how much you are eating the bottom line is this, eating small portions from smaller utensils will lead you to eat less.