New research out of Ohio State University suggests being hungry can make a marital spat even worse.
Scientists studied married couples and found that they could use the spouses’ blood-sugar levels to predict their level of anger. The lower the glucose levels, the higher the level of anger.
“I think many people can relate to the fact when they become hungry they become cranky and irritable,” said Brad Bushman a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers measured the glucose levels of 107 couples twice a day for 21 days and gave the husbands and wives voodoo dolls to express their anger at the end of the day. Each got 51 pins.
And you guessed it: the lower the glucose levels, the more pins pierced the dolls.
“We told them ‘(the doll) represents your spouse, and you’re stabbing something into it,’ ” Bushman said.
Even couples that reported they had a good relationship were more likely to express anger if they were hungry.
Another way to measure anger was performed in a lab, where the men and women were told they were competing against each other in an experimental task on computers. They were told, when prompted, to press a button faster than their spouses.
Winners could blast their husbands or wives with an unpleasant noise through headphones. To a certain extent, they could control the length of the blasts and the sound level.
But in reality, they were playing against a computer that let them win about half the time.
Again, hungry winners bombarded their spouses with longer, louder blasts.
Glucose, which we get from food, is fuel for the brain. Self-control, Bushman said, takes energy.
The study took three years to complete and included researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. A National Science Foundation grant paid for the project.
By Dean Narciso - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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