Primed for Impatience

Strategic Alliance Partnership | <b>FAST: Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics</b>

McDonald's and other fast food restaurants are catching heat from a variety of sources, but here's something new to add to the fast food naughty list: researchers say that it fosters impatience, at least as with respect to college students.

Okay, McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants are catching heat from a variety of sources, but here’s something new to add to the fast food naughty list: researchers say that it fosters impatience, at least as with respect to college students.

Chen-Bo Zhong and Sanford DeVoe, behavioral researchers at the University of Toronto, wondered if exposure to fast food or fast food logos could cause people to engage in impatient behaviors and choices during activities outside of eating. I had previously read about behavioral priming with respect to food choice, but I thought this was interesting because I haven’t seen another study regarding how what quick, convenient food might mean to us (ie, a way to save time) may affect our predilections in other areas of life.

The investigators conducted three experiments -- all taking place under laboratory conditions -- in which they focused on impatient behavior in reading, product choice, and financial saving preferences. Indeed, the study, published in Psychological Science, revealed that participating college students who were exposed to fast food-related symbols showed impatience and a preference for instant gratification. Students read faster in the absence of time constraints, showed a preference for time-saving products, and were less inclined to save after exposure.

These results, as pointed out by the researchers, may have far-reaching implications with regard to how our fast-paced culture affects our behavior. What are your thoughts?