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Hunger Makes Humans More Charitable

Update Date: Nov 11, 2013 05:12 PM EST

Being hungry makes people more generous and charitable, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who are hungry are more inclined to be supportive of the welfare state and help the poor.

"We asked a group of test subjects to fast for four hours after which we gave them a Sprite or a sugar free Sprite Zero. One group had high blood sugar levels, while the other group had low blood sugar," Assistant Professor Lene Aarøe from Aarhus University said in a news release.

"The results show that the group with low blood sugar levels were more inclined to support a left-wing welfare policy than the group with high blood sugar counts. This challenges the traditional notion of what influences us when we take a stance on questions such as modern welfare," said Aarøe.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest that the physical state of our bodies can play a significant role in our opinions of specific political issues.

Aarøe and his team believe that there is an evolutionary reason for why hungers influences political opinion. Researchers explain that politics also existed in early human hunter-gatherer communities.

"Over the course of human evolutionary history, a critical issue has always been to secure enough food. We human animals, who live in groups and are exceptionally skilled at managing social situations, always have one extraordinary option if the hunt should fail: we can ask the more fortunate people to share their spoils with us. "And if we are we to believe a number of anthropological studies, this is precisely what people do across the globe," co-researcher Michael Bang Petersen said in a news release.

"The point is that our political opinions are determined by rationality, but it is a rational impulse that has been passed on to us from our ancestors," Petersen added.

To understand the motivation of hunger-induced generosity, researchers first asked participants to state their position regarding the welfare state. Afterwards, participants were given money and given the choice of either keeping it for himself or herself or sharing it with a fellow participant.

While hungry participants were more likely to confirm the importance of helping other, they were no more inclined to share their money with others when given the chance. Researchers said the findings suggest that the inclination to help the poor is not so much a reflection of concern for the poor, but rather a strategy for securing more resources.

The findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.

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