Can’t stomach your spouse? Eat some­thing

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Have you ever wanted to poke your spouse with pins and nee­dles? Or per­haps, blast them with un­bear­ably loud sounds? No? Well, more than 100 mar­ried cou­ples in a new study did some­thing like that. But it turns out they were just hun­gry.

Re­searchers in­ves­ti­gat­ing the im­pact of low blood su­gar on “ag­gres­sive im­pulses” gave both spouses in 107 mar­ried cou­ples voodoo dolls rep­re­sent­ing their part­ners. When a spouse felt an­gry, they were asked to poke the dolls with up to 51 pins. The cou­ples were also put through a se­ries of com­pet­i­tive tasks, and the win­ner was asked to blast their spouse with noise through a head­set.

Dur­ing the 21-day study, par­tic­i­pants used me­ters to track their blood-su­gar lev­els. The lower their blood-glu­cose level, the more pins they stuck into the voodoo dolls, and the head­set noise they blasted be­came cor­re­spond­ingly more in­tense and longer-last­ing, ac­cord­ing to the study pub­lished this month in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences.

“Glu­cose is the fuel the brain needs to ex­er­cise self-con­trol,” said Brad Bush­man, pro­fes­sor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and psy­chol­ogy at Ohio State Univer­sity and lead au­thor of the re­port. When some­one is hun­gry, “the pre­frontal cortex of our brain—the part that con­trols emo­tions—is de­prived of the en­ergy it needs to ex­er­cise that con­trol,” he said.

There’s al­ready a pop­u­lar term for this phe­nom­e­non, now le­git­imized by sci­ence. It’s called “hangry,” de­fined by the Ur­ban Dic­tio­nary as “when you are so hun­gry that your lack of food causes you to be­come an­gry, frus­trated or both.”

No spe­cific glu­cose level trig­gered hangry feel­ings, ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers, but they did say it was a lin­ear re­la­tion­ship. “The lower (glu­cose-level) 25% stabbed over twice as many pins in the doll as the up­per 25%,” Bush­man said.

So the next time mar­i­tal dis­cord erupts, a love of­fer­ing of a snack could be the an­swer. But sug­gests keep­ing that Out­liers voodoo doll un­der wraps.

Ohio State pro­fes­sor Brad Bush­man used voodoo dolls to help study the ef­fect of low blood su­gar lev­els on mar­ried cou­ples.

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