High monetary reward rates and caloric rewards decrease temporal persistence

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2017-02-22

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2759

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 3

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Research Highlight

Testing persistence with hunger games

© loveguli/E+/Getty

© loveguli/E+/Getty

Feeling sated and cash rewards could reduce our ability to delay gratification.

A team including researchers from the University of Melbourne tested the effect of calorie intake and cash prize size on the perseverance of 50 hungry participants. In five minute chunks, they could either wait unknown intervals for $0.15 rewards, or “quit” waiting and pocket $0.01 every two seconds. After four rounds, the participants drank either a sugary solution, water or nothing at all. The players were more likely to give up waiting when given more frequent $0.15 rewards and after drinking the sweet drink. This could be a result of a natural risk aversion when feeling comfortable, safe and well fed, which could explain the difficulty of dieting.

The study adds to growing evidence that financial rewards and hunger levels affect impulsive behaviour and decision making.

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  1. Proc. R. Soc. B 284, 20162759 (2017). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2759
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The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia 1