Whatever you do, don’t do this when you’re hungry

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Making an important decision is stressful enough — just don’t do it while you’re hangry.

Whether it’s in the boardroom with colleagues or deciding between weekend plans, be patient when making a big decision, especially when hungry. People should consider avoiding any impactful decisions while hungry because it could impact the future, new research suggests.

Are you hangry?

The study, published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, found that hunger can make a noticeable impact on decision-making, driving them to make impatient decisions that focus on smaller rewards in the interim rather than waiting for something with more promise later.

The basis for the study regarded around questions regarding food, money, and other rewards that participants were asked when full and again when they had skipped a meal. The study’s findings weren’t surprising, according to researchers, but they did determine that being hungry can change personal preferences on how you think, which can be transferred to financial or interpersonal decisions.

“We found there was a large effect, people’s preferences shifted dramatically from the long to short term when hungry,” said Dr. Benjamin Vincent, a lecturer of psychology at the University of Dundee. “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.

“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 pension 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.”

Researchers said they tested 50 participants twice. When presented with three different types of rewards, those that were hungry took smaller rewards that gave immediate benefits rather than raising for one that could have more at a later time.

Added Vincent: “This work fits into a larger effort in psychology and behavioral economics to map the factors that influence our decision making. This potentially empowers people as they may foresee and mitigate the effects of hunger, for example, that might bias their decision making away from their long term goals.”