Don’t take de­ci­sions on an empty stom­ach

Peo­ple’s Pref­er­ences Shift Dra­mat­i­cally From Long To Short Term When Hun­gry: Study

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends -

New re­search in the United King­dom has found that if you have a ma­jor de­ci­sion to make, you should not do it when you are feel­ing hun­gry, or you might set­tle for a worse deal.

Car­ried out by re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Dundee, the new small-scale study looked at 50 par­tic­i­pants with an av­er­age age of 21.7, who were asked ques­tions re­lat­ing to food, money and other re­wards when they had eaten two hours be­fore the test and again when they had not eaten any­thing for 10 hours.

The ques­tions asked the par­tic­i­pants whether they would pre­fer one of the re­wards now, such as a cho­co­late bar or a sum of money, or a larger re­ward days or weeks later.

The find­ings, pub­lished in the lat­est edi­tion of the jour­nal ‘Psy­cho­nomic Bul­letin & Re­view’, showed that for all three of the dif­fer­ent types of re­wards, peo­ple ex­pressed a stronger pref­er­ence for a smaller re­ward im­me­di­ately when hun­gry, rather than a larger re­ward which would ar­rive later.

More specif­i­cally, the re­searchers found peo­ple were nor­mally will­ing to wait for 35 days for a re­ward dou­ble the size. How­ever, this wait time dropped to just three days when they were hun­gry.

“We wanted to know whether be­ing in a state of hunger had a spe­cific ef­fect on how you make de­ci­sions only re­lat­ing to food or if it had broader ef­fects, and this re­search sug­gests de­ci­sion­mak­ing gets more present-fo­cused when peo­ple are hun­gry,” said study au­thor Ben­jamin Vin­cent.

“We found there was a large ef­fect, peo­ple’s pref­er­ences shifted dra­mat­i­cally from the long to short term when hun­gry.”

“You would pre­dict that hunger would im­pact peo­ple’s pref­er­ences re­lat­ing to food, but it is not yet clear why peo­ple get more present-fo­cused for com­pletely un­re­lated re­wards,” added Vin­cent.

“Peo­ple gen­er­ally know that when they are hun­gry they shouldn’t re­ally go food shop­ping be­cause they are more likely to make choices that are ei­ther un­healthy or in­dul­gent. Our re­search sug­gests this could have an im­pact on other kinds of de­ci­sions as well. Say you were go­ing to speak with a pen­sions or mort­gage ad­vi­sor — do­ing so while hun­gry might make you care a bit more about im­me­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion at the ex­pense of a po­ten­tially more rosy fu­ture.”

Getty Im­ages/iStockphot­o

ONLY FOOD ON MY MIND

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