Making important decisions while on an empty stomach can lead to poor choices. We all understand that food shopping is a bad idea when hungry, but a recent study from Dundee University indicates that individuals may want to prevent making any significant choices about the future on an empty stomach.
The research, conducted by Dr. Benjamin Vincent from the Psychology Department of the University, discovered that hunger considerably changed people’s decision-making, making them impatient and more likely to settle for a tiny reward that comes earlier than a bigger one promised at a later date.
The study indicates that being hungry changes preferences for food-free benefits and can translate into other types of choices, such as economic or interpersonal ones.
Benjamin Vincent, who conducted the research, thinks it is essential that individuals understand that their preferences may be affected by an empty stomach, and there is also a risk that those in poverty may make choices that reinforce their condition.
Dr. Vincent added: “This is an aspect of human behavior which could potentially be exploited by marketers, so people need to know their preferences may change when hungry.
When satiated and again, when they skipped a meal, participants in an experiment designed by Dr. Vincent were asked questions about food, money, and other benefits.
While it may have been unsurprising that hungry individuals were more likely to settle for lower food incentives that came earlier, scientists discovered that being hungry changes preferences for food-free benefits.
This suggests that a reluctance to defer gratification can translate into other types of choices, such as economic and interpersonal choices. Dr. Vincent believes it is essential that people know that their preferences may be affected by hunger in ways they do not necessarily predict.
Researchers noted that if you offer people a reward now or double that reward in the future, they were usually willing to wait for 35 days to increase the award, but when hungry this plummeted to three days.
The study is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.