Is being ‘hangry’ a real thing? Here’s what the evidence says

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Researchers have found evidence of hunger being linked to feeling irritable and angry. Lumina/Stocksy European scientists have found new evidence that supports an association between the sensation of hunger and negative emotions.

These researchers harnessed smartphone technology to help capture people’s feelings of hunger and emotional state in real-time.

The context in which people may feel hunger could also exert an unconscious influence on emotions and behaviors.

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.

Lead author Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, the U.K., said that this study is the first to explore being “hangry” in everyday settings instead of a lab.

The findings appear in PLOS ONETrusted Source.

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App measures being “hangry” Dr. Swami and his co-authors recruited 121 adults, and 64 completed the study. They ranged in age from 18 to 60 years. Women made up 81.3% of the sample. No one reported “diverse” or “do not want to answer” regarding gender identity.

The researchers used the experience sampling method (ESM), which prompted participants 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.

Dr. Stefan Stieger, professor of psychology at Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Donau, Austria, coordinated the fieldwork. He commented: “This allowed us to generate intensive […] data in a manner not possible with traditional laboratory-based research.”

Participants downloaded an ESM smartphone app to input their data and guarantee anonymity.

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

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