Polls / September 22, 2011

Do you avoid food shopping when hungry?

Forty percent of respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll avoid food shopping when they are hungry, while 60% do not.

Do I really need all this food?
When you’re hungry, items on the grocery store shelf can seem so much more appealing than they do when you’re shopping on a full stomach. We buy too much. Those crisps, that ready to eat salad, it’s all too easy to pop them in the supermarket trolley.
A common personal finance tip (see The Digerati Life, for example) is to avoid shopping when hungry.
Emotional shopping might hurt your wallet but think of the emotional affects as well. Overspending at the supermarket could be a cause of buyer’s remorse – or the feeling of regret after buying.

Do I really need to buy this company?
Just as food shopping when hungry can lead to buyer’s remorse, the same idea can hold true in other parts of life as well.
At the other end of the shopping scale, a Harvard Business Review article on acquiring companies lists “don’t shop when you’re hungry” as one of five rules to follow. The reference to grocery buying is “an all-too-human tendency to purchase more than is needed – and to be less price sensitive about it – when shopping on an empty stomach”. It says hunger can warp judgement. Avoiding buyer’s remorse “requires both analytical and emotional discipline”.

Hot and cold decisions
Being hungry, can also lead us to act in ways that we know we wouldn’t normally, and can even make us feel “out of control”. This can be thought of as two different states of being: a “hot state” when we are emotional or our senses are aroused versus a “cold state” when we are dispassionate, satiated and at ease.
The decisions we make in a hot state are often at odds with those that we would typically make in a cold state. For example, if shopping after lunch (while in a cold) state you might pick up some lettuce and vegetables to make a salad for dinner, but by the time you get home after work, hungry and tired after a long day (hot state), you might want nothing more than an easy take-away meal.


ShoppingFoodBuyer's remorse

eZonomics team
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