You Are What You Eat (and Drink): Identifying Cultural Boundaries by Analyzing Food and Drink Habits in Foursquare
Keywords:cross-cultural analysis, cultural boundaries identification, Foursquare, characterization
Food and drink are two of the most basic needs of human beings. However, as society evolved, food and drink became also a strong cultural aspect, being able to describe strong differences among people. Traditional methods used to analyze cross-cultural differences are mainly based on surveys and, for this reason, they are very difficult to represent a significant statistical sample at a global scale. In this paper, we propose a new methodology to identify cultural boundaries and similarities across populations at different scales based on the analysis of Foursquare check-ins. This approach might be useful not only for economic purposes, but also to support existing and novel marketing and social applications. Our methodology consists of the following steps. First, we map food and drink related check-ins extracted from Foursquare into users' cultural preferences. Second, we identify particular individual preferences, such as the taste for a certain type of food or drink, e.g., pizza or sake, as well as temporal habits, such as the time and day of the week when an individual goes to a restaurant or a bar. Third, we show how to analyze this information to assess the cultural distance between two countries, cities or even areas of a city. Fourth, we apply a simple clustering technique, using this cultural distance measure, to draw cultural boundaries across countries, cities and regions.