Researchers at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands, carried out a series of tests to determine the impact hunger has on strategic decision making. Surprisingly, the results indicate that working on an empty stomach has its benefits.
‘It may be that hot states in general, and hunger and appetite in particular, do not necessarily make people more impulsive but rather make them rely more on their gut feeling which benefits complex decisions with uncertain outcomes,' the researchers revealed.
It’s long been thought that thinking in a “hot state”, whether that be hungry, angry or even aroused, is largely detrimental to cognitive thought processes but results from this recent study suggest otherwise.
In the study, participants took the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) which is said to simulate real-life decision making and is widely used in research of cognition and emotion.
In the test, participants are presented with four virtual decks of cards. Depending on the card drawn, participants will win money, lose money or be penalized. Specific decks are considered ‘bad decks’ and others are ‘good decks’ – it’s down to the participant to determine which decks are best to select winning cards from.
By testing a group of participants, researchers can determine certain factors affect decision making.
Overall, it was found that the participants who had fasted made more advantageous decisions than those who had eaten. Researchers also realized that hungry people better recognize larger, long-term risks and are more likely to choose this type of reward over short-term return.
“These studies for the first time provide evidence that hot states improve decision making under uncertain conditions, challenging the conventional conception of the detrimental role of impulsivity in decision making,’ conclude the researchers.
Hate skipping lunch? One study has found that feeling hungry could actually improve your strategic state of mind.