Will chocolate cake make you better with money?

Public domain photo

As long as I’ve started the food theme, I’ll share another food-related piece of research that gives us insight into the nature of impulse control.

Baba Shiv, a professor at Stanford University, studied two groups of undergraduates.  Members of one group were asked to remember a two-digit number, while members of the other group were asked to remember a seven-digit number.  Then, each student was instructed to walk down the hall.

At the end of the hall, the experimenter presented each student with two snack options: either a slice of chocolate cake, or a bowl of fruit salad.

Results showed that the participants who were asked to remember a seven-digit number were about twice as likely to choose the slice of cake compared to the students who were asked to remember a two-digit number.

Professor Shiv explained that the extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain, thereby interfering with the brain’s self-control mechanisms.  In other words, when the brain was overtaxed, the part of the brain that is responsible for impulse control could not do its job properly.

The more we’ve got on our minds, the easier it is to give in to temptation.

What does this mean for our financial planning and our financial change endeavors?  Send your ideas!