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Fast Food Thoughts Lead to General Impatience

Just thinking about fast food made study subjects read faster and opt for immediate gratification. Karen Hopkin reports

I used to scoff at the idea of Minute Rice. I mean, are we really in such a rush that we can’t wait, like, 10 minutes for a regular old bowl of rice? Well, yes, yes we are. And fast food may be making matters worse. Because a study in the journal Psychological Science shows that even a glimpse of those golden arches makes us act impatiently.

Fast food is a multibillion-dollar industry, and for some of us, drive-through dinner has become a way of life. Granted, sometimes we grab something quick because we really don’t have time. But psychologists got to wondering whether all this speed eating might actually make us less patient.

In a series of experiments, the scientists [Chen-Bo Zhong and Sanford DeVoe, http://bit.ly/9muhPD] showed volunteers logos from several fast-food chains or asked them to recall the last time they’d visited. And they found that folks who had thought about fast food would then read faster, even though no one told them to hurry. And they also expressed a preference for time-saving products, like shampoo plus conditioner. And they tended to opt for immediate rewards, like getting a small cash payment right away rather than waiting a week for a larger sum. So if you want to ease the pace, forget meditation. Try a slow cooker.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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