Is being ‘hangry’ a real thing? 


The term “hangry” was coined in 1918 to describe irritability or anger due to being hungry. Anecdotal and clinical evidence shows that hunger can affect emotions and behavior. A novel study, led by scientists in the United Kingdom and Austria, examines how hunger and emotions interact on a day-to-day basis. Their results indicate that hunger may indeed be closely tied to feelings of anger, irritability, or low pleasure. 

App measures being “hangry” — The researchers used the experience sampling method (ESM), which prompted 121 participants (81.3% were women) to complete short surveys semi-randomly five times a day for 21 days. This was meant to record in-the-moment accounts of hunger experiences and emotional well-being. Participants downloaded an ESM smartphone app to input their data and guarantee anonymity. 

This analysis depended on self-reported ratings, which prior research indicates as reliable assessments of hunger. 

The analysis didn’t measure physiological markers of hunger. However, the lead researcher stated, “Self-reports of hunger (i.e., how participants subjectively experience their levels of hunger) are meaningful in the context of emotionality. Because self-reported hunger likely depends on an awareness of hunger cues, it can perhaps be assumed that it reflects the extent to which physiological effects of hunger have translated into awareness and attributional processes. “ 

“As such, self-reported hunger remains valuable in its own right, especially as hunger ratings are reliable both when made immediately and after several days when tested under similar conditions,” he added. 

The participants submitted details on age, nationality, current relationship status, weight, height, and education before completing the surveys. 

Questions involved current feelings of hunger, irritability, and anger. They also reported their current emotional state and level of alertness. 

Substantial link to emotions 

Even after accounting for demographic factors and individual personality traits, the data revealed that hunger can easily morph into “hanger.” 

The research professors stated: “hunger may not automatically lead to negative emotions but given that inferences about the meaning of affect tend to be relatively automatic and unconscious, it may not take much for hungry individuals to experience anger and irritability.” 

The researchers acknowledged several “limiting factors” regarding their study. Firstly, the study’s design made it impossible to weigh “specific situational contexts” with each participant and scenario. Also, using single-item measures for measuring irritability and anger did not allow the scientists to explore “potential nuances” in each experience. The lead researcher noted that he and his partners only measured anger, irritability, arousal, and pleasure. They excluded other emotional states to limit the burden on study subjects. 

Managing emotions 

The present study does not offer methods to reduce negative hunger-related feelings but suggests that being able to label an emotion can help people to regulate it, such as by recognizing that we feel angry simply because we are hungry. Greater awareness of being ‘hangry’ could reduce the likelihood that hunger results in negative emotions and behaviors in individuals. 

Source: by Jeanna D. Smiley — Fact checked by Anna Guildford, Ph.D. 

https://www.medicalnewstoday. com/articles/is-being-hangry-a-real-thing-heres-what-the-evidence-says 

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