Friday, July 23, 2010

The effects of food on our gambling nature

I came across an article on Dubner & Levitt's blog, Freakonomics.  It introduced me to a a study on the impacts of food and gambling, called "Metabolic State Alters Economic Decision Making under Risk in Humans."  I thought that readers of this blog may be interested; have a click through the links.  The short of it is:
Immediately after eating, the subjects who were originally risk averse were less risk averse, and vice versa for the less risk averse subjects; they tried to minimize risk-taking.  The behaviors normalized when the study was performed an hour after eating.

Quoted from one of study's summaries, "How hunger affects our financial risk taking": "The researchers said their findings have implications for understanding the behaviour of dieters, the obese and people with eating disorders. 'Prandial ghrelin suppression is reduced in obesity,' [Mkael] Symmonds and his co-authors wrote. 'Thus we predict greater risk-seeking in obese individuals following feeding, augmented by larger immediate post-prandial effects on risk taking due to higher baseline adiposity. This mechanism may underpin a component of the aberrant decision-making seen in obese individuals, including impulsivity and reward-seeking behaviour. We also predict profound effects on decision-making for individuals operating at very low baseline energy reserves [i.e. dieters and people with eating disorders]'"

FYI for those dummies (like me who didn't know): "Ghrelin" is a hormone that increases appetite.  "Prandial" means relating to a meal. 

Double rainbow (song link), what does it mean (original version)?  I interpret it to mean that obese people or people eating while playing (or shortly before) are more likely to take gambling risks.  It also means that you should be aware of playing while you're eating or just before playing.  Give yourself a chance to digest your food.  Some basics rules for playing poker can be adapted from what mom always said about swimming in the pool: don't pee in it and wait an hour after eating to play :-).

1 comment:

  1. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that food affects our poker.

    I've noticed that what kind of mood I'm in plays a large part. Sometimes, I'm just in an aw-fuk-it mood. Guess what, not good. When I sense that, I have to be very disciplined.


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