Department of Management

A Meta-Analysis of Blood Glucose Effects on Human Decision Making

Research output: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  • Jacob L. Orquin
  • Robert Kurzban
    Robert KurzbanUniversity of PennsylvaniaUnited States
The academic and public interest in blood glucose and its relationship to decision making has been increasing over the last decade. To investigate and evaluate competing theories about this relationship, we conducted a psychometric meta-analysis on the effect of blood glucose on decision making. We identified 42 studies relating to 4 dimensions of decision making: willingness to pay, willingness to work, time discounting, and decision style. We did not find a uniform influence of blood glucose on decision making. Instead, we found that low levels of blood glucose increase the willingness to pay and willingness to work when a situation is food related, but decrease willingness to pay and work in all other situations. Low levels of blood glucose increase the future discount rate for food; that is, decision makers become more impatient, and to a lesser extent increase the future discount rate for money. Low levels of blood glucose also increase the tendency to make more intuitive rather than deliberate decisions. However, this effect was only observed in situations unrelated to food. We conclude that blood glucose has domain-specific effects, influencing decision making differently depending on the relevance of the situation to acquiring food
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume142
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)546-567
Number of pages22
ISSN0033-2909
StatePublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • meta-analysis, blood glucose, decision making, ego depletion, dual systems theory, optimal foraging

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