Social Welfare and the Psychology of Food Sharing: Short-Term Hunger Increases Support for Social Welfare
Michael Bang Petersen
University of Aarhus - Department of Political Science
Aarhus University - Department of Political Science
Niels Holm Jensen
University of Aarhus
Oliver Scott Curry
University of Oxford
April 30, 2012
Do politically irrelevant events influence important policy opinions? Previous research on social welfare attitudes has emphasized the role of political factors such as economic self-interest and ideology. Here, we demonstrate that attitudes to social welfare are also influenced by short-term fluctuations in hunger. Using theories in evolutionary psychology, we predict that hungry individuals will be greedier and take more resources from others while also attempting to induce others to share by signaling cooperative intentions and expressing support for sharing, including evolutionarily novel forms of sharing such as social welfare. We test these predictions using self-reported hunger data as well as comparisons of subjects who participated in relevant online studies before and after eating lunch. Across four studies collected in two different welfare regimes — the UK and Denmark — we consistently find that hungry individuals act in a greedier manner but describe themselves as more cooperative and express greater support for social welfare.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Social Welfare, Political Attitudes, Evolutionary Psychology, Resource Depletion, Hunger, Sharingworking papers series
Date posted: June 25, 2012 ; Last revised: June 27, 2012
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