Quick: Would you confront your worst fears if you were hungry and had your favorite meal waiting for you on the other side of your fear? Maybe you need some time to think about it, but according to a study in the journal Neuron, the answer is much simpler than you think it is. National Institutes of Health researchers designed an experiment to measure the effect of hunger against other motivating forces, and what do you know:
The experiment centered on mice who were placed at the crossroads of two paths. At the end of only one was food, with other conditions added according to the motivator being placed up against hunger. In one run of the experiment, the hungry and thirsty mice was asked to choose between food and water; in another, the food was placed in a chamber that also included chemicals that foxes produce; in yet another, food was at one end and the company of other mice was at the other. In all three runs, the mice would choose the food.
Of course, this *could* be chalked up to the fact that mice, and really all animals, have really strong survival instincts and thus, the opportunity to get food is one that they just have to take. But we’ve definitely seen this behavior with humans before: When you come back from a tough day at work and you get an invitation to go out, a lot of us would defer in order to get ourselves in sweatpants and with a pizza on the way. And, if you’ve ever watched people squabble in long brunch lines, you know that people can get verrry antsy when they’re on the verge of hunger. (Another part of the research showed that in the social vs. food run, the mice might actually view the other mice as competitors.)
Anyway, the next time you’re in a situation where you’re hungry and you’re wondering if it’s actually worth it to pursue that food, chances are, nature’s already made your decision for you. Bon appétit!