Feed Those Traders

Does hunger affect risk aversion? A new study, written up on the British Psychological Society blog, says it does. Researchers had 19 males play a gambling game after a long fast; immediately after a 2,000-calorie meal; and one hour after the meal. The immediate effect of the meal was neutralizing: the more risk-averse men were less cautious when playing immediately after eating, and the opposite was true for less risk-averse men. An hour after eating, men who felt less hungry played more cautiously. “This parallels findings in foraging animals,” said Mkael Symmonds, one of the study’s authors, “where changes in metabolic state promote changes in behavior to maintain or reach a metabolic benchmark (to take more risk if intake rate is relatively low, and less risk if intake is relatively high), but here we see the effect in the economic domain.” The researchers point out that their findings may have implications for the obese, dieters, and people with eating disorders. (And, of course, traders.) [%comments]


this just in: booze increases gambling moreso than starving, so casinos bring booze to the table rather than withholding grub

Kathleen Lisson

I wonder if this has business implications. Would putting sandwiches on a table at a Noon client meeting make them more open to 'taking a risk' on hiring your firm than if the meeting were at 1:30 pm or 2 p.m.?


A 2,000 calorie meal? That's a massive meal. That seems kind of high, why not try a more reasonably sized meal?


It also might have to do with impulse control. Science has shown that low blood sugar is liked to poor impulse control. So if your impulse is to fear risk, then after a good meal, you can overcome your instincts and trust your rational brain to know if the risk is really worth taking.

Brian warden

19 males? This is way too small a sample to prove anything.


And yet so many casinos have buffets...