Impatient? Fast Food Could Be the Culprit

Impatient - Fast Food Could Be the CulpritHave you found that your patience has waned lately? As you consider your possible causes, be sure to assess how much fast food you’ve eaten lately. What does fast food have to do with impatience? This study says that it is directly related to impatience.

“Fast food represents a culture of time efficiency and instant gratification. The problem is that the goal of saving time gets activated upon exposure to fast food regardless of whether time is a relevant factor in the context.”

Those are the thoughts of study researcher Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. The research, which will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, reveals that people who ate fast food tended to prefer time saving products, like two in one shampoo rather than shampoo and conditioner used separately. They also tended to read faster, even when there was no advantage to finishing the material earlier. What’s wrong with reading quickly? Isn’t that usually a good thing?

Zhong explains why this is a problem:

“Walking faster is time efficient when one is trying to make a meeting, but it’s a sign of impatience when one is going for a stroll in the park.”

Last, they seemed to prefer immediate gratification rather than delayed rewards or saving.

A final experiment found people exposed to fast food logos exhibited greater reluctance for saving, choosing a smaller immediate payment rather than opting for a much larger delayed payment.

So, does this mean that if you eat fast food, you are going to become more impatient? Or, could it be that we eat fast food because we are already impatient? The researchers expressed their awareness of the issue of these study results in the context of a very fast paced, instant results, culture. Everything from the microwave oven to instant messaging encourages impatience.

The study raises an important point that while we (as a culture) have multiple time saving technologies, we have only become more impatient. The technologies are not actually helping us take advantage and enjoy the time we have, they only make us more hurried, even when we don’t need to be.

I recently switched phones and got a Blackberry (only because my husband and I could get them for free). We were not in the market for a smart phone. I didn’t need to have instant access to my emails and Facebook messages. But now that I have gotten accustomed to having them all at my fingertips, I can feel the “addiction” that so many talk about.

Having said that, I have to add that I don’t think everyone is susceptible. My husband has a Blackberry also, but he barely feels the need to check his voice mail messages, much less all his email. So, while the culture continues to move at a faster pace, there are those among us, thank God, who can help the rest of us slow down and maintain some perspective on time.

Is fast food the culprit? I don’t think so. It’s simply a byproduct, in more ways than one, of our increasingly fast paced culture. Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine with my homemade dinner just to buck the system tonight!


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