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Time orientation mediates the link between hunger and hedonic choices across domains

Otterbring, Tobias
Food research international 2019 v.120 pp. 124-129
carrots, chocolate, consumer preferences, hunger, marketing, public health, satiety
This study investigated the link between hunger and individuals' inclination to make hedonic choices in several distinct consumption domains. Participants made a set of binary choices between hedonic and utilitarian items, both from the food domain (for example, between chocolate and carrots) and from domains unassociated with food (for instance, between an apartment with a nice view and an apartment close to work). Next, participants indicated their hunger level, after which they replied to items measuring time orientation. The results revealed that hunger (vs. satiation) increased participants' proclivity to make hedonic choices across domains. This effect was moderated by the domain specificity of the items to be consumed and was mediated by participants' time orientation. Thus, although hunger resulted in a generalized pleasure-seeking propensity, leading to more hedonic choices regarding virtually anything, hungry (vs. satiated) participants showed a particularly powerful increase in their desire to acquire hedonic food (vs. non-food) items, and this effect was driven by a shift in their time orientation, with a more prominent focus on present pleasures. The article has important implications for time-specific marketing messages of hedonic consumer goods and offers creative ways to counteract shortsighted consumer choices that may be used to promote public health.