A new study has validated any people who get wildly irritable when they are hungry after finding that not eating really does have an impact on anger and our overall emotions. The first-of-its-kind study suggests that hungry people often report variations in anger and irritability of up to almost 40 percent, and may also find it impacts the amount of pleasure they experience on a day-to-day basis.
Clearly, Snickers was way ahead of science on this one.
The study, which was published in PLoS One, suggests that understanding what is causing the emotions is the biggest step to stopping them.
“Ours is the first study to examine being ‘hangry’ outside of a lab. By following people in their day-to-day lives, we found that hunger was related to levels of anger, irritability, and pleasure,” said lead author Viren Swami in a statement.
“Although our study doesn’t present ways to mitigate negative hunger-induced emotions, research suggests that being able to label an emotion can help people to regulate it, such as by recognising that we feel angry simply because we are hungry. Therefore, greater awareness of being ‘hangry’ could reduce the likelihood that hunger results in negative emotions and behaviours in individuals.”
To dive into whether "hangriness" is a real thing or just an excuse to grab some street food when you’re tired, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) took 64 participants over a 21-day timeframe and got them to report their feelings and hunger levels at five times throughout the day. Responses were then matched to look for correlations between hunger and any particular emotions they may have felt during those times.
The results showed that during periods of self-reported hunger, the participants felt angrier and more irritable, while feeling lower pleasure. Specifically, hunger was directly linked to 37 percent of the variance in irritability, 34 percent of the variance in anger, and 38 percent of the variance in pleasure.
Combined, the results support the notion of being "hangry", marking a definitive impact of food on mood.
“Many of us are aware that being hungry can influence our emotions, but surprisingly little scientific research has focused on being ‘hangry’,” said Swami.
The relationship between hunger and negative emotions was clear even when accounting for confounding factors. However, there were a few limitations to the study, including that it didn't actually contextualize each emotion and only accounted for a few types of emotion.
What it does provide us with, is an argument that we do in fact need the food we are begging for, because otherwise we’ll be angry and unpleasant and no one wants that.