Hangry (Hungry + Angry)? Don't Argue With Your Spouse

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Never make decisions on an empty stomach. Research has shown — and we all know first-hand — that hunger can profoundly affect mood, emotions and our ability to reason. Albert Einstein knew the deal.

An empty stomach can also trigger a well-known condition called “hanger” (hunger + anger, not this). And according to a new study, being hangry is not good for your marriage.

According to the research, low blood glucose levels, which correlate with hunger, make married people more irritable and likely to act aggressively towards their spouse.

“We've done extensive lab experiments to show that our theory is true, it's not just common sense in this case,” said lead author and psychologist Brad Bushman from Ohio State University.

Most other research on the ways in which blood glucose level affects relationships and behavior involved experiments in an artificial setting with strangers, lasting less than an hour.


"We wanted to see how this extended to real world," Bushman told Fusion. "We conducted research with people who were married for an average of twelve years, in their homes, over the course of 21 days. That makes a huge difference."

So how did Bushman and his colleagues measure how being hangry affects marriage? They used this voodoo doll and 51 pins:


Courtesy of Brad Bushman, via NPR

Participants were told that the voodoo doll represented their spouse. Each night before they went to bed, they were instructed to stab the doll with pins depending on how angry they were with their significant other.


Sounds morbid, but the participants kept things under control. The average stabbing number was about one pin per night, but three particularly hangry people stuck all 51 pins in the doll at once.

Bushman's advice for people who want to use this research to improve their marriages?


"Don't even talk about sensitive issues on an empty stomach. Wait to talk during dinner," he said.

"Or better yet, after dinner."

Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.

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