There’s a difference between being hungry—a feeling we all get between meals—and being “hangry“. If you get hangry, you probably already know it: your hunger pangs put you in a very bad mood that you (and your family and friends) have a hard time ignoring.
But is being hangry a real thing, or just an excuse? “It’s generally accepted that hunger can impact our moods and even behaviors like aggression and impulsivity,” says Jennifer MacCormack, a doctoral student in the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and lead author of a new study published Monday in the journal Emotion. “But we still don’t know much about the psychological mechanisms that transform hunger into feeling hangry.”
To better understand what causes it, MacCormack and her colleagues did a series of experiments and found that being in a stressful situation—and not being in tune with your emotions—may both make a person cross the line from hunger into hanger.