A new study says that our 'gut feelings' influence our decisions, overriding 'rational' thought, when we are faced with financial offers that we deem unfair.
Even when we are set to benefit, our physical response can make us more likely to reject a financial proposition we consider to be unjust. The research adds to growing evidence that our bodies can sometimes govern how we think and feel, rather than the other way round.
It also reveals that those people who are more in tune with their bodies are more likely to be led by their 'gut feelings,' according to a study conducted by a team from the University of Exeter, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and University of Embridge, the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioural Neuroscience reports.
Barney Dunn from Exeter, who led the research, said: "This research supports the idea that what happens in our bodies can sometimes shape how we think and feel in our minds. Everyday phrases like 'following your heart' and 'trusting your gut' can often, it seems, be accurate."
"It is important to recognise why some individuals rebel against perceived unfairness, whereas other people are prepared to accept the status quo," said Dunn, according to an Exeter statement.
The study was based on a well-known psychological test, the Ultimatum Game. Fifty-one participants were presented with a series of financial offers, based on different ways of dividing 10 pounds. Players frequently reject unfair offers in this game even though it leads to personal financial loss - an 'irrational' decision from an economic perspective.
The researchers measured participants' physical responses to each offer by recording how much they sweated through the fingertips and how much their heart rate changed.
The findings show that individuals who have a strong 'gut-reaction' and are in tune with their own physical responses are more likely to reject unfair financial offers, even if this decision results in personal losses.