Hunger promotes acquisition of nonfood objects

Alison Jing Xu, Norbert Schwarz, Robert S. Wyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Hunger motivates people to consume food, for which finding and acquiring food is a prerequisite. We test whether the acquisition component spills over to nonfood objects: Are hungry people more likely to acquire objects that cannot satisfy their hunger? Five laboratory and field studies show that hunger increases the accessibility of acquisition-related concepts and the intention to acquire not only food but also nonfood objects. Moreover, people act on this intention and acquire more nonfood objects (e.g., binder clips) when they are hungry, both when these items are freely available and when they must be paid for. However, hunger does not influence how much they like nonfood objects. We conclude that a basic biologically based motivation can affect substantively unrelated behaviors that cannot satisfy the motivation. This presumably occurs because hunger renders acquisitionrelated concepts and behaviors more accessible, which influences decisions in situations to which they can be applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2688-2692
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Food vs. nonfood
  • Hunger
  • Mindset
  • Spillover effect
  • Wanting vs. liking


Dive into the research topics of 'Hunger promotes acquisition of nonfood objects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this