You make savvier decisions on an empty stomach

Hungry study participants were more likely to trust their gut when making complex decisions

Man with a stomach looking like a Magic 8 Ball, reading “All Signs Point to Yes”

(Kagan McLeod)

According to new research from the Netherlands’ Utrecht University, making a decision on an empty stomach could lead to more strategic decision-making. The study’s authors found that peckish participants in a card game known as the “Iowa Gambling Task” played more shrewdly and made better decisions than those who had eaten.

One of the three experiments in the study had 30 university students refraining from eating and drinking between 11 p.m. and the time they arrived to the study lab the next day, which was either 8:30 a.m. or 9:15 a.m. Half of the participants were served breakfast before the experiment, the others went straight to the Iowa Gambling Task. Those subjects who were hungry ended up making decisions that were advantageous in the long run, which the researchers found slightly surprising as previous research has shown that hunger can decrease one’s cognitive performance.



The researchers believe being slightly hungry causes people to rely on intuition and emotions, which they say benefits complex decisions with uncertain outcomes. On the other hand, the researchers noted that being in a state of hunger can increase one’s impulsivity, but that impulsivity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In other words: when you hear your stomach grumbling, you know it’s time to seal that deal.