October 05, 2022

Psychological reminder: Don’t shop when you are hungry

It is not surprising that hunger triggers our cravings for food. But have you ever noticed that when you walk around the mall when you are hungry, it will be more difficult for you to restrain the urge to pay for your pockets; when you board a shopping website when your stomach is empty, the urge to fill your shopping cart seems to be more intense; even stomachache When you get free books, you can’t help but get a few more… Alison Jing Xu, a researcher at the Twin Cities University of Soda, Minnesota, and his partners Norbert Schwarzb and Robert S. Wyer Jr.d have proved through 5 experiments. When people are hungry, they will strengthen the concept of “acquisition” in self-perception, and therefore buy more non-food commodities. The research was published in PNAS in 2015.

Hunger makes people want more non-food commodities

In Experiment 1, the researcher wanted to investigate whether the concept of “hunger” is related to the concept of “acquisition”. The researcher presents 22 words in three categories at a speed of 50 milliseconds for each word on the screen, which are:
(1) Words related to “getting” (such as getting, wanting, getting),
(2) Words related to “hunger” (such as hunger, appetite, and famine),
The rest are control words (such as chair, painting, speaking). Participants need to input the words they see each time, and then calculate their correct reporting rate. After completing the task, participants report their hunger level (from 0 to 10). It was found that as self-reported hunger levels increased, the probability of correctly identifying words related to hunger increased significantly, and the same was true for words related to “getting”. But starvation has no effect on the recognition of control words. This experiment shows that hunger increases the accessibility of concepts related to access.

Experiment 2 was conducted at lunch time. The research assistant found 77 college students and faculty in a cafe on campus and provided them with a 3 Canadian dollar participation voucher. Some participants were tested when they entered the cafe (hungry condition), while others were tested when they were about to leave the cafe after lunch (satisfaction condition). Then, the researchers showed them 10 sets of items, including 5 sets of food (such as sandwiches) and 5 sets of non-food (such as wireless mice) products or services, and asked them about their purchase intentions. It was found that hunger increased the willingness to obtain non-food items without affecting the degree of preference for these objects.

Experiment 3 examined whether the subjectively reported degree of hunger is related to the number of non-food items you want to obtain. 89 participants first assessed their preference for a certain brand of binder. Participants write down how many binders they hope to get after the survey, their preference for such binders, and the current level of hunger.

At the end of the study, the participants were given the number of binders they requested. Participants’ self-reported hunger has nothing to do with their evaluation of binder preferences. However, this is positively related to the number of binders they get. This experiment shows that hunger increases the intention to acquire non-food objects, and these intentions translate into actual acquisition behavior.

Experiment 4 wanted to examine whether the “hunger” of manipulation has the same effect. Sixty-three participants were required to fast for 4 hours before the start of the experiment (drinks allowed). Then the participants all completed three tasks. One task is to conduct blind tasting tests on bread and cakes produced by local bakery. The second task is the mosaic graphics task (for filling). The third task is to survey consumers of brand binders in the store, and use the number of binders that individuals want to obtain as the dependent variable (same as Experiment 2). Under the condition of fullness, the participants took part in the blind tasting test (eating cake) first, followed by the task of mosaic graphics and the task of binder; under conditions of hunger, participants started with the task of mosaic graphics, then the binder task, and finally completed Blind tasting test. The results showed that participants in the hungry group took more binder samples than those who were full. The experiment also showed that hunger promotes the acquisition of non-food items without affecting the preference for non-food items. Compared with Experiment 3, the starvation of this experiment is achieved through experimental operation rather than evaluation.

Experiment 5 conducted another field experiment. Participants were 81 consumers who completed shopping in a department store in North America. Participants provided their own shopping receipts for the day for scanning and also completed a consumer survey. Consumers reported their mood, hunger level, and the time and content of the last meal. It turns out that hungry buyers buy more non-food products than fuller buyers. This is still the case when the emotions of the participants and the time they spend in the store are under control. Hunger increases the amount of money spent, and this result can only be established after controlling emotions and shopping time. The experiment shows that when people have to pay for their non-food items, the access effect of hunger is still significant.

Don’t shop when you are hungry

The study revealed that hunger is indeed related to the purchase of non-food items-the more hungry, the more non-food items will be purchased, and the preference for such items has not changed much. The mechanism lies in the fact that hunger is a very basic human physiological sensation. In addition to stimulating us to obtain food to meet the basic needs of fullness, it also unintentionally strengthens our acquisition of items other than food, that is, on the whole Strengthened our understanding of the concept of “acquisition”. This conclusion has brought a lot of inspiration to our lives-when you feel that you can’t make ends meet, remember to remind yourself:
“Before shopping, don’t let yourself be hungry for too long.”