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Hungry man

Hunger leads to better decision making

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We’ve all had those days when concentrating on work seems like a chore when you’ve got a rumbling tummy. But don’t worry if your workload has you frequently skipping lunch – new research says hunger actually improves strategic decision making.

Generally, research has found against making decisions when one is in a “hot state” – such as being emotional, hungry or even sexually aroused – but these researchers from the Utrecht University have found the opposite. That is, people in a “hot state” are better able to make favourable decisions involving uncertain outcomes.

Study participants were instructed to refrain from eating and drinking (except water) from 11 pm in the evening prior to their session. The next morning, they were randomly assigned to either the cool (sated) condition after consuming breakfast, or to the hot (hunger) condition before breakfast consumption.

The team found that hot states, like being hungry, may benefit rather than compromise decision making skills.

They also realised that hungry people better recognise the risk of losing a long-time bigger reward, and are likely to choose this over a short-term gratification.

“Benefits from being in a hot state result from a greater reliance on emotions, that allow for a better  recognition of risks that go hand in hand with big rewards,” said the researchers.

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