The effect of food deprivation on human resolving power

Brief Report


The feeling of hunger is an inseparable part of people's daily lives. It has been established that hunger, caused by food deprivation, influences people’s physiological and emotional state and their everyday behavior. Yet, it remains unclear whether and in which manner food deprivation affects the way people perceive their environment. In two experiments, we examined the effects of food deprivation on the perceptual resolution of food portion size. We calculated Just Noticeable Differences (JNDs) to measure sensitivity to detect the smallest difference between two stimuli of different sizes. Participants' resolution in both experiments was higher to detect changes in food size compared with baseline when they were hungry due to a short period of food deprivation. Food deprivation did not lead to any biases in the average perception of food size. The results show that food deprivation changes the way people perceive their environment. We discuss the possible role of attention in mediating the effect of food deprivation on the visual resolution of food size.


Hunger Food deprivation Psychophysics Visual perception Motivational effects Spatial resolution 



The authors thank Yoav Kessler and Daniel Algom for their help and advice.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael

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