It’s better to be starving than well-fed when you are trying to make a life-changing decision, according to a new study which found that hunger can improve decision making.
Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands conducted three experiments on a group of students to test whether hunger led to advantageous strategic decision-making.
In all experiments, the students were split up into two groups – fasting and non-fasting.
The fasting participants ate nothing for approximately 10 hours before taking a test, while the non-fasting group was treated to a generous breakfast, where they were free to eat and drink as much as they wanted.
In the first two experiments, the students played a card game that mirrors complex real-life decision-making related to gambling that involves various risks and rewards.
The fasting group performed better than the non-fasting group, managing to understand the pattern of long-term rewards over short-term gains, ‘sciencealert.com.au’ reported.
“These results show that people who were hungry because of having fasted overnight performed better on a complex decision task than sated people and thus provides a first piece of evidence that the hot state of hunger improves, rather than compromises, advantageous decision making,” researchers said.
In the third experiment, the participants were presented with a set of questions that required them to choose between being given a small amount of money at that moment or a larger amount of money in the future.
This experiment supported the findings of the first two experiments, as the fasting participants opted for the larger amount of money in the future, whereas non-fasting participants were more likely to choose the first option.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.