When it comes to proving your mettle, bigger is better:
Northwestern University researchers found that people equate larger food portions with higher social standing. For example, study participants believed that people who opted for a large coffee had more social status than those who chose a medium or small coffee, even when the price was the same.
The study also found that people who feel powerless (such as those in lower socioeconomic groups) selected larger pieces of bagels than others, and chose larger smoothies when they were at a social event than when they were alone.
I haven’t read the paper, but I wonder if they controlled for gender. And geography, for that matter. I come from NY, and I don’t get the impression ordinary people use this sort of value system.