Science has revealed why you get annoyed when you want something to eat.
The word “hangry” is defined as feeling “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger” by the Oxford dictionary — and now scientists have figured out why we get in a rage when we’re craving a bite.
A new study claims these negative emotions aren’t just triggered by hunger, but can also be attributed to biology, personality and your environment.
Researchers conducted two experiments involving over 400 people — who were asked to state how hungry they were — showing them random images designed to create positive, neutral or negative feelings.
They were also shown a Chinese pictograph, an ambiguous image that they were asked to rate based on pleasantness.
Results showed that hungrier participants were more likely to rate the pictographs as negative, but only after first seeing a negative image.
On the other hand, hungry candidates shown neutral or positive images didn’t react negatively.
“The idea here is that the negative images provided a context for people to interpret their hunger feelings as meaning the pictographs were unpleasant,” said Jennifer MacCormack, the study’s lead author.
“So there seems to be something special about unpleasant situations that makes people draw on their hunger feelings more than, say, in pleasant or neutral situations,” she added.
In a separate experiment on 200 people, participants were told to either eat or fast beforehand and then complete a writing test.
The researchers then performed tricks to annoy their specimens, including crashing their computers before the exercise was finished.
Findings showed participants who were hungry were especially peeved by the assignment.
“They thought the experimenter was more judgmental,” MacCormack told NPR. “They said they felt significantly more hate than other people.”
“You don’t just become hungry and start lashing out at the universe,” said the study’s co-author, assistant professor Dr. Kristen Lindquist.
“We’ve all felt hungry, recognized the unpleasantness as hunger, had a sandwich and felt better.”
“We find that feeling hangry happens when you feel unpleasantness due to hunger but interpret those feelings as strong emotions about other people or the situation you’re in,” explained Lindquist.
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