Agressive Decision Making

You are hurrying up to meet a friend for lunch. It’s your day off. You wake up late this morning and decide to skip breakfast. Besides, lunch time is in less than 2 hours. Traffic is horrible. You get stuck for 30 minutes or so. You rush to the restaurant, fifteen minutes late and feeling guilty, only to find that your friend hasn’t arrived yet. You receive a text message: whr r u? i’l b thr in 10 min. sory.

So you sit and look around you. It’s already 2pm. You are hungry. You remember not having a proper dinner last night. Ten minutes seemed days. The aroma of the food others are enjoying sends more hunger signals to your brain. You check your watch every 30 seconds. You feel people are looking at you. You feel the waiter is looking at you.

Your friend finally arrives, very late. You do not care how many minutes, but very late. Your friend apologizes and blames the traffic. While waiting for the food to be served, your friend talks excitedly about a business proposal. You don’t seem to care anymore. You don’t find the proposal as interesting as it was a few days ago. You refuse to be a part of it. Your friend is surprised and hurt. You sounded so enthusiastic about it a few days ago. Now, you do not want to be a part of it.

You just exhibited aggression during a social decision-making. You can blame it all to serotonin.

New research by scientists at the University of Cambridge suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells, plays a critical role in regulating emotions such as aggression during social decision-making.

Their findings highlight why some of us may become combative or aggressive when we haven’t eaten. The essential amino acid necessary for the body to create serotonin can only be obtained through diet. Therefore, our serotonin levels naturally decline when we don’t eat.

Their research suggests that serotonin plays a critical role in social decision-making by normally keeping aggressive social responses in check. Changes in diet and stress cause our serotonin levels to fluctuate naturally, so it’s important to understand how this might affect our everyday decision-making.

The only way to get the raw material for serotonin is through the diet. Therefore, serotonin levels are lower when you haven’t eaten.

Feeling hungry prior to a meeting? Have some chicken soup or a chocolate bar – they can boast your serotonin levels. That is probably why they are called “feel good” foods.

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