Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When your body needs calories, you are more inclined to help the poor

Date:
November 11, 2013
Source:
Aarhus University
Summary:
New research shows that hunger affects our attitudes towards the welfare state. And when hungry people state their support of the welfare system, it is not so much a reflection of their concern for the poor; rather it is a strategy for securing further resources for themselves.

Imagine that you have not eaten anything for the past few hours. It is almost lunch time, and you are getting hungry. You receive an email. It is a survey asking about your political position regarding the welfare state. You answer the questions quickly and head off to lunch. Now imagine a different scenario. You have just come back from lunch. You are feeling full, as you sit down in front of your computer. You receive the same email. You answer the survey quickly and then get back to work. Do you think your answers in these two scenarios would be the same -- or different?

Related Articles


An article published in Psychological Science, one of the world's leading journals of psychology, suggests that people's responses in these different situations actually differ greatly. Since the Age of Enlightenment we have believed that people make up their minds about politics by considering their options carefully and weighing the pros and cons. Whether you are hungry should not make a difference. Nonetheless, research now shows that people who are hungry are more inclined to be supportive of the welfare state and help the poor.

"We asked a group of test subjects to fast for four hours after which we gave them a Sprite or a sugar free Sprite Zero. One group had high blood sugar levels, while the other group had low blood sugar," explains Assistant Professor Lene Aarψe from Aarhus University, who collaborates on the project with her colleague Michael Bang Petersen

"The results show that the group with low blood sugar levels were more inclined to support a left-wing welfare policy than the group with high blood sugar counts. This challenges the traditional notion of what influences us when we take a stance on questions such as modern welfare," says Aarψe.

When we grow hungry, we do what our ancestors did

The extraordinary results suggest that the state of our bodies has a significant influence on our position on specific political issues. In order to understand why, we must look to the origin of our species. Politics also existed in the communities of our ancestors, the hunters and gatherers who roamed the East African savannah, and their ways of handling things have left a mark on us today.

"Over the course of human evolutionary history, a critical issue has always been to secure enough food. We human animals, who live in groups and are exceptionally skilled at managing social situations, always have one extraordinary option if the hunt should fail: we can ask the more fortunate people to share their spoils with us. And if we are we to believe a number of anthropological studies, this is precisely what people do across the globe," says Petersen and proceeds:

"The point is that our political opinions are determined by rationality, but it is a rational impulse that has been passed on to us from our ancestors."

We want to share, but we have a hidden agenda

The welfare system is a system of sharing, a contemporary equivalent to the custom of our ancestors. But when hungry people are more inclined to support the welfare system it is not so much a reflection of their concern for the poor; it is rather a strategy for securing further resources for themselves.

These are the results of a supplementary survey in which Aarψe and Petersen first asked the test subjects to state their position regarding the welfare state -- and then they gave them money, which they could choose to keep for themselves or share with a fellow test subject. Despite the fact that the hungry subjects had just confirmed the importance of helping others, which is indeed characteristic of the welfare state, they were no more inclined to share their loot with others when given the chance.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Aarhus University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Aaroe, M. B. Petersen. Hunger Games: Fluctuations in Blood Glucose Levels Influence Support for Social Welfare. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613495244

Cite This Page:

Aarhus University. "When your body needs calories, you are more inclined to help the poor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111102427.htm>.
Aarhus University. (2013, November 11). When your body needs calories, you are more inclined to help the poor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111102427.htm
Aarhus University. "When your body needs calories, you are more inclined to help the poor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111102427.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

White House: Sony Hack a 'serious National Security Matter'

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) — White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says cyber attacks that ultimately prompted Sony Pictures to scrap the release of a madcap comedy about North Korea are a "serious national security matter." Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins