The University College London has confirmed a fact many of us have known to be true for years: The quickest way to a man’s wallet is through his stomach. But here’s the twist: The hungrier we are, the more likely we are to spend.
Earlier this month, the university published a study about the impact of hunger on men making financial decisions. The researchers discovered that men were more likely to take a risk with their money if they were hungry and became more risk-averse when their bellies were full. The study concludes that “human risk preferences are exquisitely sensitive to current metabolic state.”
In order to determine this, the researchers took 24 “healthy, normal weight” men and stuffed them with a meal of more than 2,000 calories. The researchers then studied how their decision-making process changed in three different states: immediately after they had eaten the meal, an hour after they had eaten and after they had fasted for 14 hours. Each time, the subjects were asked to play a lottery game on a computer. Those who had gone longer without eating were more likely to choose a card with a bigger prize but a lower probability of actually winning it.
The study itself is loaded with technical jargon, but there is this clear explanation behind the finding. “The immediate impact of the meal… induces satiation, where further calorific intake is assessed to carry minimal additional value. This induces risk-neutral behaviour.” In other words, once your stomach is satisfied, you are less likely to feel compelled to make a risky decision because, well, you’re full, and what else do you really need in the world at that moment?
So, if you want to save money, you should start by buying yourself three square meals a day.
(A hat tip to Bundle.com for highlighting this study!)