Scientists at the University of Dundee in Scotland found that hunger significantly altered people’s decision-making, making them impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrives sooner than a larger one promised at a later date. The Irish Examiner reports:
The research suggests being hungry actually changes preferences for rewards entirely unrelated to food and may carry over into other kinds of decisions, such as financial or interpersonal ones.
Benjamin Vincent, who carried out the study, believes it is important that people know an empty stomach might affect their preferences and there is also a danger those in poverty may make decisions that entrench their situation.
Dr Vincent added: “This is an aspect of human behaviour which could potentially be exploited by marketers, so people need to know their preferences may change when hungry.
“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 adviser – doing so while hungry might make you care a bit more about immediate gratification at the expense of a potentially more rosy future.”
Paper out now in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review… “Hunger increases delay discounting of food and non-food rewards”— Benjamin Vincent (@inferencelab) September 16, 2019
Massive thanks to my former undergrad dissertation student, Jordan Skrynka who won the 2017 @UndergradAward, Psych section. pic.twitter.com/cGgaRIpxyx