It would not be a good idea to shop at a department store on an empty belly. The hungrier a person is, the more willing they are to buy not only food, but also clothes, toys, tools — any kind of nonfood item. According to new findings from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, hungry, malnourished people are more apt to buy practically anything.
This could be related to the way people are marketed to. People are told they are lacking things and that they need to buy more and better to be happy. When hunger strikes, people feel need and lack. Instead of just searching for food, they feel the need to buy other things as well.
“Hunger makes us think about seeking, acquiring, and consuming food,” said Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School. “The acquisition-related thoughts can spill over and put us in a mode of also getting nonfood items even though they are incapable of satisfying our hunger.”
Hungry participants requested more nonfood items
In a specific study, Xu and her colleagues asked participants to refrain from eating for four hours. They split the participants into two groups. One group was given a blind taste test of cakes. Their hunger was satiated. The other group was given no taste test. When Xu and her colleagues presented both groups with the opportunity to request as many office supply binder clips as they liked, the hungry group asked for 70 percent more of the clips. Those who were already satisfied by taste, didn’t ask for many binder clips.
The study showed Xu and her colleagues that unsatisfied hunger causes people to want more things in general, whether it is food or not.
Hungrier shoppers spend 64 percent more
In another study, participants were allowed to shop at a large department store. When the participants were through shopping, their purchases were analyzed in relation to their hunger. The time the shoppers spent in the stores was used as a control to eliminate error. The researchers found out that hungry shoppers spent 64 percent more money on average than those who were less hungry. Hungry shoppers spend more on anything, as if they are filling some kind of void.
“If you go for a shopping trip with an empty stomach you may spend more money and buy more stuff than you otherwise would,” said Xu. “Why not feed yourself before a shopping trip? Alternately, if you are hungry and you have to make purchasing decisions, think twice before you buy.”
Nutritionally depleted population seeks fulfillment from consumption
If these same rules are applied to nutritional nourishment, then lack of nutrients may be the underlying reason why people long for things, new clothes, new cars, etc. Malnourishment in the cells of the human body may be at the heart of American consumerism.
The dominance of corporations in America and the culture of consumption that grips people of all ages may be the greatest sign that America is more malnourished and hungrier than ever. And the more we buy these empty products, the more we feed corporate profits, as we are starved and hollow, growing hungrier and more depressed, always needing, lacking and wanting.