Surely you've heard it said that you shouldn't go to the supermarket hungry. Shopping for food on an empty stomach means that when we walk through the aisles full of products, we get our hands on many things that were not in our plans and that we don't even consume regularly. Apparently, hunger makes us more vulnerable to the attraction of food. But it turns out that the vulnerability caused by the desire to eat is not only limited to food: you could end up buying more clothes, shoes, cosmetics …
Experiments by researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that the drive to buy also extends to non-food items. Alison Jing Xu, lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, notes that hunger-related thoughts about eating end up being reflected in other purchasing decisions as well. "I think consumers should be aware that they can spend more money online or in a store if they are hungry when they go shopping," he warned.
The group led by Jing Xu carried out five experiments with about 76 participants each. Members of one of the groups, for example, were asked when they entered a café to express their desire to buy items that were food and that were not food. All people indicated a greater desire to buy both types of items when they entered than when they left after eating.. One of the experiments, conducted with shoppers at a department store, was the most conclusive: The researchers asked people leaving the store if they were hungry. An analysis of shopper receipts showed that those who were most hungry had purchased more non-food items, even taking into account their mood and time spent shopping.
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Why does this happen? According to Edward Abramson, a professor at California State University, hunger is a complex phenomenon that involves hormones and the brain, and although it is not easy to establish a direct cause-effect relationship, if hunger may interfere in the control of our impulses. And he explains: "Our normal reasoning usually puts limits on what we buy, either because we do not have the money or to not appear very greedy, but if we are hungry, part of that control disappears."
Conclusion? Do not go hungry shopping, neither to the market nor to your favorite department store.