• Emma Green

The unexpected consequences of hunger


"Hunger is so common that it is important to understand the non-obvious ways in which our preferences and decisions may be affected by it." This a quote from Dr Benjamin Vincent, a Psychology researcher from the University of Dundee. In light of the pervasiveness of dieting and food insecurity, he wanted to study people’s ability to make decisions on an empty stomach and has just published his findings. He found that hunger made participants impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrived sooner than a larger one promised at a later date. In other words, their ability to delay gratification was poorer. This has been shown in studies previously for food rewards. You might be familiar with the famous marshmallow test that explored this in children. What is interesting about the current study is that this occurred for non-food rewards. This demonstrates that the consequences of hunger extend much further than simply your body. Hunger affects your ability to make judgements in general and that’s a big deal. The best way to deal with hunger? Just eat! You can’t trick your body. Honour your hunger, you’re worth it.

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