The Stress and “Wanting” for Sweet Reward in Humans

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This paper would look at an article published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition in 2015 titled "Stress Increases Cue-Triggered "Wanting" for Sweet Reward in Humans." Tobias Brosch, Eva Pool, David Sander, and Sylvain Delplanque of the University of Geneva wrote the post. This essay is a valuable addition to the field of psychology since it aims to explain individual activities and how they are influenced by stress; thus, it can be useful in carrying out an interpretation of the authors' points.


This essay discusses tension and how it can raise the need for rewards. It is based on research carried out on rodents to determine the relationship between stress and the wanting pursuits. Public health problems have been caused by stress over the years and even though research has proven that the article reveals less research has been conducted to determine the psychological mechanism behind the effects of stress on these problems (Tobias, Pool, Sander and Delplanque 128). The authors suggest that that rewards can be utilized to lower the adverse impacts of stress. This is compensated by the hedonic feelings caused by their consumption.


According to Tobias, Pool, Sander, and Delplanque (128), the incentive theory suggests a mechanism that does not involve the reliance of hedonic characteristics of the reward. They further state: “The pursuit of a reward is not always directly proportional to the pleasure experienced. This is because reward processing involves distinct components, including the motivation to obtain a reward (such as wanting) and the hedonic pleasure during the reward consumption (such as liking), which are usually correlated but can be dissociated under particular circumstances (Tobias, Pool, Sander and Delplanque 128).”


The research carried out in this article involved 41 participants. They all possessed a liking for chocolate and they were sampled from the University of Geneva. These people were requested not to consume any food or have any drink for 4 hours prior to experiment period. Moreover, they were asked not to participate in any sporting activity after which they were given 30 Swiss francs as a reward for taking part in the experiment. The experiment excluded 5 participants since 2 of them had technical problems and 3 were receiving psychotropic medication. The rest of the sample population lacked any olfactory problems and consisted of 19 males (Tobias, Pool, Sander and Delplanque 129)

The materials used in the study were classified as the stimuli and the instrumental apparatus. The procedure employed involved instrumental conditioning where participants were taught how to squeeze a handgrip with the aim of promoting the smell of chocolate. This session included 24 trials, and a thermometer was used to provide visible online responses on the efforts produced by each handgrip (Tobias, Pool, Sander and Delplanque 131). Another experiment was conducted by requesting the participants to squeeze the grip at will. The results involved the analysis of variance and presented in 2 graphs.


The objective of the study was to determine whether the incentive salience theory that predicts that the wanting aspect of human beings is increased by the availability of stress (Tobias, Pool, Sander and Delplanque 134). The study revealed that the pursuit of rewards was increased by stress than in the normal condition of the mind. Thus, according to Tobias et. Al (135), it can be concluded that stress influences the wanting tendencies of humans. In my opinion, this article is useful in understanding human behavior. As a beginning scholar in psychology, I learned how an easy experiment can reveal important knowledge about humans.

Work Cited

Tobias, Pool, Sander & Delplanque. Stress Increases Cue-Triggered “Wanting” for Sweet Reward in Humans. Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition 2014 American Psychological Association. (2015) Vol. 41, No. 2, 128–136

November 03, 2022


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