A new study suggests that spouses are more likely to fight when one or both partners are "hangry" — that is, "hungry" and therefore "angry."
In a unique experiment, researchers at The Ohio State University asked 107 couples to monitor their blood glucose levels with over-the-counter equipment twice a day, and stick pins in voodoo dolls meant to represent their spouses every evening for 21 days. CNN reported
that the participants were then asked to stick between 1 and 51 pins in the dolls to represent their level of irritation or outright anger at their beloved.
The results were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, and confirmed what many have long suspected: low blood sugar, the result of hunger, has a strong correlation with marital disputes.
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In addition to the voodoo doll portion of the experiment, the couples were asked to visit the lab at the end of the 21 days for a subsequent test.
The couples were separated, put in front of a simple computer game, and told they were competing against their spouse. Winners, they were told, would have the privilege of blasting the loser with a loud horn at the intensity and duration of their choosing. In reality, however, the spouses were playing against a rigged game that would make them win and lose at about the same rate.
As predicted, those with lower blood sugar levels used the horn more violently and more frequently.
The study, led by Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology, supports previous findings from the same lab. In particular, it supports a study that found that people behaved less aggressively after giving them a sugar-sweetened beverage.
It also supports findings from a famous 1998 study, in which two groups of hungry people were given either cookies or radishes to eat, then asked to work on a secretly unsolvable puzzle. The people who ate cookies, which contain more sugar, worked for twice as long as those given radishes before giving up.
Because of studies like these, scientists continue to test theories that self-control is materially influenced or even determined by environmental factors like blood glucose.
After news broke of the new study, some pointed out Snickers' prescient ad campaign from 2010 in which groups of friends confront their cranky cohorts and ask them to eat a Snickers in hopes their moods will improve. While cranky, the friends are represented by divas like Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli, and once they eat a Snickers they turn back to themselves.
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