HomeThis Is Why You're So Hangry, According to New Research

This Is Why You’re So Hangry, According to New Research

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The term “hangry,” a combination of the words “hungry” and “angry,” is frequently used in ordinary speech, although science has only sparingly examined the phenomena outside of experimental settings.

New scientific research has found that being hungry really can make us “hangry,” or angry and irritable. This new study, which was published today in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to look into how hunger impacts people’s emotions on a daily basis.

The term “hangry,” a combination of the words “hungry” and “angry,” is frequently used in ordinary speech, although science has only sparingly examined the phenomena outside of experimental settings.

Researchers from the UK’s Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and Austria’s Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences jointly conducted this new study, which discovered that hunger is linked to higher levels of irritation and anger as well as lower levels of pleasure.

Over the course of 21 days, 64 adults from central Europe were asked to keep track of how hungry they were and how they were feeling emotionally.

Five times each day, participants were invited to report their moods and hunger levels via a smartphone app, allowing data collection to occur in the participants’ natural surroundings, such as their workplaces and homes.

After controlling for factors including age, sex, BMI, dietary habits, and personality types, the results demonstrate that hunger is associated with increased feelings of anger and irritation and decreased perceptions of enjoyment.

Hunger was linked to 37% of the difference in irritability, 34% of the difference in anger, and 38% of the difference in happiness that the participants reported. The research also found that irritability, anger, and other negative feelings are caused by both the day-to-day changes in hunger and the average levels of hunger left over after three weeks.

Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and study’s lead author Viren Swami says: “Many of us are aware that being hungry can influence our emotions, but surprisingly little scientific research has focused on being ‘hangry’.”

“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.

“Although our study doesn’t present ways to mitigate negative hunger-induced emotions,” according to the professor, “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.”

The expert adds: “Therefore, greater awareness of being ‘hangry’ could reduce the likelihood that hunger results in negative emotions and behaviours in individuals.”

Stefan Stieger, a psychology professor at Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences, who conducted the fieldwork says that this “hangry” impact hasn’t been thoroughly studied, “so we chose a field-based approach where participants were invited to respond to prompts to complete brief surveys on an app. They were sent these prompts five times a day at semi-random occasions over a three-week period.”

“This allowed us to generate intensive longitudinal data in a manner not possible with traditional laboratory-based research. Although this approach requires a great deal of effort – not only for participants but also for researchers in designing such studies – the results provide a high degree of generalisability compared to laboratory studies, giving us a much more complete picture of how people experience the emotional outcomes of hunger in their everyday lives.”

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