July 25, 2014

Want a raise? Ask when you’re hungry

You’ll be more successful if you ask for something when you’re hungry, a new academic study suggests. Bets are off if your boss just fed you a big free lunch.

Please, sir, may I have some more? Applying Oliver Twist’s famous bit of courage — when he asks for porridge — may help you ask for a raise.

A new academic study, to be presented in August at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, suggests you’ll make a stronger pitch if you ask when you’re hungry.

Hunger propels motivation and augments the sense you’re entitled to the reward, be it food, money or promotion, according to a psychological analysis out of Cornell University and Dartmouth College.

Conversely, management might benefit from experiments indicating that full stomachs are likely to make employees more satisfied and grateful. In other words, if you’re delivering bad workplace news, save it until after you’ve fed the crew a big lunch.

Or, if you want to keep your workers and keep them happy, feed them. Why do think many “best places to work” — think Google — provide free lunches?

Studies by Emily Zitek and Alexander Jordan concluded that “hunger leads people to feel more entitled … to think about themselves instead of others and focus on their own needs.” No surprise there. That dates to caveman days.

But updated career advice is that physical hunger can tamp down inclinations to care about others or worry about the organization as a whole. Hunger can help you go after what you want because of “amplified levels of a basic physiological drive,” the researchers wrote.

The conclusions came from experiments, one of which used a previously developed “Psychological Entitlement Scale” that asks people to rate such comments as “I demand the best because I’m worth it.” People who said they were hungry at the time they took the test scored much higher senses of entitlement.

The study is among 4,000 to be presented at the academy’s annual meeting this year in Philadelphia.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to Follow her online at and

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