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Fasting improves a gambler’s decision making

28/10/2014
Punters who have not eaten before gambling are more likely to make advantageous decisions than those not playing on an empty stomach, a study has indicated.

Research carried out by scientists at Utrecht University in The Netherlands tested university students, who were asked to fast for a night before sitting the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) at a laboratory the following day, where some were given food and the rest were not.

The IGT is used in research of cognition and emotion, and is meant to simulate real-life decision making.

Participants were presented with four virtual decks of cards on a computer screen, and were required to work out which decks were best to select winning cards from, with game money being at stake.

The first study involved 30 participants, and the second involved 50 participants, with the results suggesting that those who were playing on an empty stomach were better at making quick decisions.

A third study tested 46 participants, who answered a list of 27 questions which required them to make a choice on having a small amount of money in the present and a large amount of money in the future.

Those who had not been eating were more likely to choose the second option, and those who had eaten were more likely to choose the first option.

Hungry participants also had a better perception of future big rewards, implying that being in a “hot state” does not make necessarily force people to make irrational decisions.
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