Feeling 'Hangry' Is Normal, New Study Reveals

We’ve all experienced it at some point – a pang of hunger that makes you irritable and angry over the tiniest reasons.

We’ve all experienced it at some point – a pang of hunger that makes you irritable and darkens your mood, and even makes you lash out for the smallest reason.

It’s popularly called feeling hangry, and findings from new research say it’s real.

Published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, researchers used the experience sampling method to gather data and understand how hunger affects emotional outcomes daily.

Study participants were invited to respond to prompts to complete brief surveys. The short surveys were given on multiple and semi-random occasions throughout the day.

There were 121 participants at the start, with 76 completing at least one survey every day for 21 days. A total of 64 participants completed the study by responding to the final questionnaire.

With an average age of 30, the participants ranged from 18 to 60 years old and were mostly women.

The team reported that greater self-reported levels of hunger among dozens of the study participants were associated with stronger feelings of irritability and anger. Hunger was tied to 37% of variation in irritability, 34% variation in anger, and 38% variation in pleasure.

"Our study suggests that when you feel hungry, you also are more likely to feel angry. When you're hungry, you're more likely to feel more irritable and experience less pleasure,” said Viren Swami, a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in East Anglia, England.

Negative emotions like anger and unpleasantness also appeared to be caused by both continuing levels of hunger and day-to-day hunger fluctuations.

"Ours is the first study to examine being hangry outside of a lab. By following people in their day-to-day lives, we found that hunger was related to levels of anger, irritability and pleasure,” added Swami.

He also noted it is important to acknowledge hangry as a real feeling to better manage our emotions.

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