A new study called “I Need Food And I Deserve A Raise” is scheduled to be presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, which runs from August 1-5 in Philadelphia. Among the conclusions is the finding that you can harness your hunger-honed focus to further your career.
Study authors Emily Zitek of Cornell University and Alexander Jordan of Dartmouth College hypothesized that “hunger leads people to feel more entitled… Hungry people think about themselves instead of others and focus on their own needs, which leads them to feel and act entitled,” according to the AOM.
Zitek elaborated on this idea for the Wall Street Journal:
[pullquote]“[Hungry people’s] priority is to do things to make themselves feel better….Once they’ve satisfied that need they can turn to other needs, like social connections.”[/pullquote]
That’s the time to schedule that meeting with your boss about that raise. After all, what would make you feel better? Well, maybe a raise and then some lunch.
Zitek and Jordan tested their hypothesis on two separate occasions and came to the same conclusion: a little bit of entitlement can work in your favor, while a lot can make for a potentially volatile working environment.
For the first experiment, the two surveyed 103 Cornell University undergrads at the entrance to the dining hall. Depending on whether or not the undergrads had not yet eaten or had just finished eating, Zitek and Jordan found they answered the surveys differently.
Students who hadn’t yet eaten seemed to feel more entitled, agreeing with statements like “I honestly feel I’m more deserving than others” and “Things should go my way.”
On a more negative note, those same hungry students were less likely to want to help out the researchers by answering an extra survey. The WSJ reports that just 60% of hungry students wanted to help, while 78% of students who were full offered to complete that extra survey.
For the second experiment, the researchers took 213 undergrads and dismissed those who didn’t like pizza. Of the remaining students who liked pizza, some students were taken to a room where a frozen pizza was being cooked in a toaster oven. Others were taken to a plain room with no smell or sight of pizza to tempt them. The WSJ notes that those students who smelled the pizza professed “significantly more entitlement” than those who did not.
However, Zitek and Jordan caution that an overinflated sense of entitlement can create a contentious work environment. Overly-entitled employees tend to blame external circumstances for poor job performance, or any other problems they’re experiencing in their professional and personal lives.
This study suggests that you find that balance that makes you sharp, but doesn’t take you to the point of not playing well with others.
Zitek and Jordan also add that evidence like Google’s employee perks (which include things like free sushi lunches) show that employees differ in entitlement levels based on life experience, and providing free food for employees can make many feel grateful and work harder rather than feeling spoiled or entitled.
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