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Anger and irritability associated to hunger: Study

by Pragati Singh

A recent study found a strong correlation between emotions of irritability and anger and hunger, suggesting that feeling hungry may cause us to become “hangry.”

The term “hangry,” a combination of the words “hungry” and “angry,” is often 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 the new study, which discovered that hunger is linked to higher levels of irritation and anger as well as lower levels of pleasure.

64 adults from central Europe were selected by the researchers, and they completed a 21-day study in which they kept track of their mental wellness and hunger levels.

Five times each day, a smartphone app asked participants to report their sensations and degrees of hunger. This allowed data to be collected in the participants’ regular settings, such as their homes and places of employment.

The findings demonstrate that hunger is linked to greater emotions of irritation and anger as well as lower evaluations of enjoyment. These effects persisted even after adjusting for demographic characteristics such age and sex, body mass index, dietary habits, and individual personality features.

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Thirty-seven percent of the variation in irritability, thirty-four percent of the variance in anger, and 38 percent of the variance in pleasure were all related to hunger, according to the participants.

The study also discovered that the negative emotions, such as impatience, anger, and unpleasantness, are brought on by both daily variations in hunger and lingering hunger levels that are averaged over a three-week period.

Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and study’s lead author Viren Swami said: “While many of us are aware that hunger may affect our emotions, surprisingly little scientific research has focused on being “hangry.”

Our research is the first to look at “hanger” outside of a lab setting. We observed people in their daily activities and discovered that hunger was associated with degrees of rage, irritation, and enjoyment.

“Although our study doesn’t offer solutions for reducing unpleasant feelings brought on by hunger, research indicates that being able to name a feeling might help individuals control it, for example by acknowledging that we feel furious merely because we are hungry. Therefore, individuals’ chance that hunger causes unpleasant feelings and behaviours might be decreased with better knowledge of being “hangry.”

Stefan Stieger, a psychology professor at Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences, conducted the fieldwork. This “hangry” impact hasn’t been thoroughly studied, so Professor Stieger explained: “We used a field-based technique where individuals were prompted to respond to prompts to complete quick questionnaires using an app. Over a three-week period, they received these cues five times each day, on sporadic occasions.

“We were able to produce extensive longitudinal data as a result, which was something that was not feasible with conventional laboratory-based study. Our understanding of how individuals feel the emotional effects of hunger in their daily lives is considerably more thorough thanks to this technique, even if it takes a lot of work on the part of both participants and researchers when preparing such studies.”

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