Hunger can really make us feel “hungry” – stu

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New scientific research has found that being hungry can actually make us “hungry”, with emotions such as anger and irritability strongly linked to hunger. Published in the journal PLOS ONEthe study is the first to investigate how hunger affects people’s emotions on a daily basis.

Hangry, a portmanteau of hunger and anger, is widely used in everyday speech, but the phenomenon has not been widely explored by science outside of laboratory settings.

The new study, led by academics from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK and Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Austria, found that hunger is associated with higher levels of anger and irritability, as well as lower levels of pleasure.

The researchers recruited 64 adult participants from central Europe, who recorded their hunger levels and various measures of emotional well-being over a 21-day period.

Participants were asked to report their feelings and levels of hunger on a smartphone app five times a day, allowing data collection to take place in participants’ everyday environments, such as their workplace and home. home.

The results show that hunger is associated with stronger feelings of anger and irritability, as well as lower pleasure ratings, and the effects were substantial even after controlling for demographic factors such as age and sex, body mass index, eating behavior and individual personality traits.

Hunger was associated with 37% of the variance of irritability, 34% of the variance of anger and 38% of the variance of pleasure recorded by the participants. Research also found that negative emotions – irritability, anger and unpleasantness – are caused by both daily fluctuations in hunger, as well as residual levels of hunger measured by averages over the three-week period.

The study’s lead author, Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “Many of us are aware that being hungry can influence our emotions, but surprisingly few scientific research has focused on “hunger”.

“Our study is the first to look at being ‘hungry’ outside of a lab. By following people in their daily lives, we found that hunger was linked to levels of anger, irritability and nervousness. pleasure.

“While our study does not present ways to mitigate hunger-induced negative emotions, research suggests that being able to label an emotion can help people regulate it, for example by recognizing that we feel angry. simply because we are hungry. Therefore, greater awareness of being ‘hungry’ could reduce the likelihood that hunger will lead to negative emotions and behaviors in individuals.”

The fieldwork was carried out by Stefan Stieger, professor of psychology at the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences. Professor Stieger said: ‘This ‘suspended’ effect was not analyzed in detail, so we chose a field-based approach where participants were asked to respond to prompts to complete brief surveys about an app. . These prompts were sent to them five times a day on semi-random occasions over a three-week period.

“It allowed us to generate intensive longitudinal data in a way not possible with traditional laboratory research. Although this approach requires a lot of effort – not only for the participants but also for the researchers in designing such studies – the results offer a high degree of generalizability compared to laboratory studies, giving us a much fuller picture of how people experience emotional outcomes. hunger in their daily lives.


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