A meta-analytical and experimental examination of blood glucose effects on decision making under risk

Jacob Lund Orquin*, Jacob Dalgaard Christensen, Carl Johan Lagerkvist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has shown that short-term changes in blood glucose influence our preferences and may affect decisions about risk as well. However, consensus is lacking about whether and how blood glucose influences decision making under risk, and we conduct two experiments and a meta-analysis to examine this question in detail. In Study 1, using a pecuniary valuation method, we find no effect of blood glucose on willingness to pay for risky products that may act as allergens. In Study 2, using risky gambles, we find that low levels of blood glucose increase risk taking for food and to a lesser degree for non-food rewards. Combining our own and previous findings in a meta-analysis, we show that low levels of blood glucose on average increase risk taking about food. Low blood glucose does not increase risk taking about non-food rewards although this is subject to heterogeneity. Overall, our studies suggest that low blood glucose increases our willingness to gamble on how much food we can get, but not our willingness to eat food that can harm us. Our findings are best explained by the energy budget rule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1036
Number of pages13
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the research program MISTRA Biotech on funds from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. The authors would like to thank Alina Kaiser, Michiel Nijland, Michael Askær Jensen, and Daniel Nettle. All data and scripts are available at: https://osf.io/mtb5z/ Copyright: © 2020. The authors license this article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. ∗Aarhus University and Reykjavik University. [email protected].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Society for Judgment and Decision making. All rights reserved.

Other keywords

  • Blood glucose
  • Decision making
  • Energy budget rule
  • Meta-analysis
  • Risk


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