Hunger Games: Fluctuations in Blood Glucose Levels Influence Social Welfare Support
Aarhus University - Department of Political Science
Michael Bang Petersen
University of Aarhus - Department of Political Science
June 11, 2013
Psychological Science, Forthcoming
Social welfare policies are a modern instantiation of a phenomenon that has pervaded human evolutionary history: resource sharing. Ancestrally, food was a key shared resource in situations of temporary hunger. If our evolved psychology continues to shape how individuals think about current, evolutionarily novel conditions, this invites the prediction that attitudes regarding welfare politics are influenced by short-term fluctuations in hunger. Using blood glucose levels as a physiological indicator of hunger, we test this prediction in a study in which subjects are randomly assigned to consume a soft drink with carbohydrate or an artificial sweetener. Analyses show that subjects with experimentally induced low blood glucose levels express stronger support for social welfare. Using an incentivized measure of actual sharing behavior, we furthermore demonstrate that this increased welfare support does not translate into genuinely increased sharing motivations. Rather, we suggest, it is “cheap talk” aimed at increasing the sharing efforts of others.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Evolutionary Psychology, Social Cognition, Hunger, Political Attitudes
Date posted: June 13, 2013
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