Modern Impatience May be Linked to Fast Food

Many people opt to eat fast food not only for its sometimes addicting taste, but for the convenience it offers, as well. In fact, the availability of quick food has skyrocketed in recent decades, leading to the expectation that a meal can take only a few minutes out of the day, leaving more time for work and other activities. While some may view this modern trend in a positive light, others criticize the impact of fast food on emotional and mental well-being, a sentiment supported by a recent study performed at the Rotman School of Management.

The study investigated how fast food associations interacted with personal expectations and mood by exposing participants to a range of related stimuli. The participants in one particular experiment viewed popular fast food insignia such as the McDonald’s logo in quick flashes that were not consciously processed. Following this experience, the participants were involved in a reading task, and researchers found that those who were exposed to the insignia tended to perform the task more quickly than those in a control group. Participants were also instructed to remember an event in which they ate at a restaurant, and were then presented with a series of choices between “regular” and convenience-oriented products. People who performed the recall exercise were more likely to choose the products focused on higher efficiency.

The researchers have noted that fast food seems to make people more impatient and drawn to other time-saving options –even to the point of spending larger amounts of money. While the negative health effects of fast food have been known for some time, the potential for such foods and the fast food habit itself to hamper psychological well-being and drain the wallet may help more people think twice before stopping at the drive-through.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Liz Mayo

    Liz Mayo

    March 27th, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    There is always a balance in everything in this world…fast food tasts great and takes less time to consume compared to a conventional meal,but is a lot more harmful health-wise…there need to be more options for people to choose from though. And not just any options,we need healthy food options.We could have healthy food that can be consumed in just as much time as fast food,but ofcourse without the health hazards.

  • Eliza


    March 28th, 2010 at 6:29 AM

    Jeez you may be right- fast food has harmed us all in so many ways and now we discover that it has also caused us to be more impatient. I mean it is the root of all evil now right?
    I do agree that it has done harm to our nutrition and our health and it probably has conditioned us to think that things have to be done faster. But come on. These are choices that we have all willingly made and I do not blame the fats food industry for eveything that is wrong in society the way that some people choose to do. Have they done things that are wrong. Certainly but we all have free will and have bought right into it. We all hold a little responsibility here.

  • oliver


    March 28th, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    This speaks volumes of how we humans do things wrong…we work hard to fulfill our desires…and before these desires we need certain necessities…and food is one of the greatest necessities to man…and after having worked hard to earn all the money,what do we do?We do not have the time to eat the food! This is just pathetic of all of us who practice this and yes it is something in which a change is really welcome.

  • Neil


    March 28th, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    Fast food has never been that healthy. This is no shock horror revelation to us. We all know it’s not good for us, same as we know we shouldn’t drink coffee all day either. It’s convenient and that’s what matters when we stop at a drive-through after working late or a very busy day. I refuse to feel bad about doing something to make my life easier.

  • Cason


    March 29th, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    We’re fat because of fast food, and now we are impatient and fat to boot.

  • Susana Shields

    Susana Shields

    March 29th, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    I think it works both the ways…fast food started as a result of us being impatient and the emergence of fast food as a viable option to the conventional meal has spruned the interest in it and has in turn made us impatient about other things as well.



    March 29th, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    It is the era of fast…everything is needed instantly and people have lost everything that has to do with patience…nobody wants to wait for anything…at this rate we might just see the society boiling over and this may well lead to even more cases of burnout and other problems related to mental health.

  • Dionne S.

    Dionne S.

    March 30th, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    I could also take my clothes down to the river and beat them against a rock but I’d rather throw them in the washing machine and pay for the water and electricity. We may not always choose the most frugal option. We will choose the most convenient though. I’d be more impatient if I had to stand over a cooking pot for an hour stirring it than I would going for fast food.

  • Shona


    April 1st, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    I’m not convinced that just seeing a fast food logo is enough to make us hurry or that we associate it with speed. It’s faster and healthier to take a prepared bag of salad and some deli meats and cheeses out your fridge than stand in a queue waiting for a kid to get your order messed up. I rarely get home and have everything I asked for in the bag, which irritates me for the rest of the night. That’s why I can count on one hand how often I pick up fast food in a year.

  • Katherine


    April 2nd, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    I was watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu and he was asking a class of six year olds to identify common vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower and tomatoes. They couldn’t, not one of them! But they all chorused what it was when the chicken nuggets, burgers and pizza came out. How shocking that children can’t recognize and name a fresh vegetable when they see it. They didn’t even know that french fries came from a potato. All credit to their teacher who took it upon herself after his visit to teach them. Convenience is costing our children their future health!

  • themuse


    April 3rd, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    You can’t blame the kids Katherine. It’s the parents’ fault that they hardly see the cooking and preparing fresh vegetables. Everything comes out the freezer, the microwave or a drive thru.

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