Getting 'hangry' is a real thing, scientists discover

Rob Waugh
Do you get hangry before lunch? (Getty)

If you find yourself snapping at nearby people when you haven’t had enough for lunch, you might have an excuse, science has found.

Being ‘hangry’ is a real thing, University of Dundee researchers found.

That doesn’t excuse you being rude, but the researchers found that making decisions on empty stomach leads to people being impatient.

The University of Dundee researchers found that hunger significantly altered people's decision-making, making them impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrives sooner than a larger one promised at a later date.

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The research suggests that being hugry changes our preferences for things unrelated to food - so it might be a bad idea to take decisions relating to money or relationships on an emptystomach.

Benjamin Vincent, who carried out the study, said, ‘This is an aspect of human behaviour which could potentially be exploited by marketers, so people need to know their preferences may change when hungry.

'People generally know that when they are hungry they shouldn't really go food shopping because they are more likely to make choices that are either unhealthy or indulgent.

'Our research suggests this could have an impact on other kinds of decisions as well.

'Say you were going to speak with a pensions or mortgage adviser - doing so while hungry might make you care a bit more about immediate gratification at the expense of a potentially more rosy future.

'This work fits into a larger effort in psychology and behavioural economics to map the factors that influence our decision-making.

'This potentially empowers people as they may foresee and mitigate the effects of hunger, for example, that might bias their decision making away from their long-term goals.'

A group of 50 participants were tested twice for the study - once when they had eaten normally and once having not eaten anything that day.

When hungry, people expressed a stronger preference for smaller hypothetical rewards to be given immediately rather than larger ones that would arrive later.