Can’t stomach your spouse? Eat something
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.