Research suggests a link between physical states like hunger and emotional states. | Image Source via Getty Images
14 June, 2018, 21:29
Feeling hangry is more than just a drop in the blood sugar, according to a new study published by the APA.
There have been earlier studies that have shown that hunger can in fact affect the mood mainly because hunger is responsible for affecting hormones as well as the autonomic nervous system - both of which could have effects on mood. For this study two random group of 118 undergraduate students were included.
Assistant professor and study co-author Kristen Lindquist added that the state of being hangry is one where people "feel unpleasantness due to hunger", but also feel "strong emotions" about their current situation or other people. These are the classic symptoms of a syndrome called "hangry" which we are all quite familiar with I'm sure-getting so hungry that you become angry.
After determining how hungry the participants were through self-reflective surveys, they were shown images created to induce a positive, negative, or neutral feeling. Then they were shown an "ambiguous" image-a Chinese pictograph-and were asked to rate, on a scale of one through seven, how pleasant or unpleasant the pictograph made them feel.
The researchers found that hungry participants, who were primed with a negative image before seeing the ambiguous Chinese pictograph, were more likely to rate them as negative, while hungry participants primed with positive or neutral images did not rate the pictograph as negative.
"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".
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All the students were asked to complete a tedious computer exercise that was programmed to crash just before they could complete it, a scenario created to evoke negative emotions from them.
"The objective of our research is to better understand the psychological mechanisms of hunger-induced emotional states". Afterward, they were asked to fill out questionnaires about their emotions. All the students were then asked to write an essay that was either emotional or not related to feelings at all.
These individuals also thought that the researcher conducting the experiment was more judgmental or harsh.
Based on the study's results, hungrier participants had a greater chance of giving the pictograph a negative rating after they were shown a negative image beforehand.
Separately, the same team of researchers looked at a different group of 236 people, all undergraduate students at UNC, who were then divided into two groups and asked to eat or fast before taking a writing test.
They started out by sitting down 400 people in front of a computer, where participants were shown either an image of a kitten (positive), a rock (neutral) or an angry dog (negative). "Our bodies play a powerful role in shaping our moment-to-moment experiences, perceptions and behaviors - whether we are hungry versus full, exhausted versus rested or sick versus healthy", she says.
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