New Study Suggests That Feeling 'Hangry' Could Be A Real Thing

Albert Einstein once famously said, "an empty stomach is not a good political advisor." If anyone could attest to the cognitive hang-ups of hunger, it's probably the guy who conceptualized the theory of relativity. Of course, who hasn't been there? When that three o'clock slump rolls around and suddenly it's harder to concentrate at work, your hunger may be to blame. Of course, there's the intense hunger you experience when at an amusement park and your stomach growls for an overpriced basket of chicken tenders from the food stand. It's like those Snickers bar commercials that tease, "You aren't you when you're hungry." 

Merriam-Webster defines "hangry" as "irritable or angry because of hunger." It's why you snap at your friend or run out of patience with the person walking in front of you on the sidewalk when snack time is approaching. A new study suggests that there might be some scientific evidence to support the idea that becoming "hangry" could be a real thing.

Hanger is real, and you aren't immune

The study, led by Viren Swami, asked 64 participants to track their feelings of hunger, anger, irritability, pleasure, and arousal at five distinct times throughout the day, over the course of 21 days, for a total of 9,142 sample responses, via Plos One. Ultimately, the results found that hunger was consistently associated with higher responses of anger and irritability and lower responses of pleasure across all ages, sexes, BMIs, and typical mood behaviors of participants. What these subjects were feeling was "hanger" and, judging by the results, "hanger" is a universal experience.

It's no secret that hunger affects mental health. In fact, mood-hunger-correlation has been studied for nearly a century. In 1944, a radical study called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment tested 36 young men to help researchers learn about the psychological and physiological effects of hunger (per the American Psychological Association). The experiment was designed with particular interest to WWII's extreme food shortages, but the results of the study are still relevant today. Hunger, it found, is directly linked to fatigue, irritability, depression, and apathy. Leslie E. Korn, Ph.D. explains that hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar) is linked to severe mood swings, via Psychology Today. According to the USDA, hunger can also impair academic performance by causing inability to concentrate and lack of motivation.

So, do yourself (and your friends) a favor and have a snack when you feel your stomach start to growl. Scientifically, you aren't you when you're hungry.