The Science Of ‘Hangry’, Or Why Some People Get Grumpy When They’re Hungry

FEED ME. Angry man. Ollyy/Shutterstock

Nature And Nurture

Another reason hunger is linked to anger is that both are controlled by common genes. The product of one such gene is neuropeptide Y, a natural brain chemical released into the brain when you are hungry. It stimulates voracious feeding behaviours by acting on a variety of receptors in the brain, including one called the Y1 receptor.

 

 

Besides acting in the brain to control hunger, neuropeptide Y and the Y1 receptor also regulate anger or aggression. In keeping with this, people with high levels of neuropeptide Y in their cerebrospinal fluid also tend to show high levels of impulse aggression.

As you can see, there are several pathways that can make you prone to anger when you’re hungry. Hanger is undoubtedly a survival mechanism that has served humans and other animals well. Think about it like this: if hungry organisms stood back and graciously let others eat before them, their species could die out.

While many physical factors contribute to hanger, psychosocial factors also have a role. Culture influences whether you express verbal aggression directly or indirectly, for instance.

And as we are all different across all of these factors, it’s little wonder there are differences in how angry people seem to get when they’re hungry.

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