We’ve all been there before. You skip lunch to prepare for your afternoon meeting, then you get stuck behind a school bus on your commute home and you forgot to grab a Snickers bar for the ride. Next thing you know, you’re uprooting a maple tree with your bare hands and stabbing neighborhood children with a rusty pair of scissors.
This condition has long had an appropriate a name: hangry (derivation: hungry + angry).
Now, scientists think they know why we get this way. Researchers at the University of Cambridge (via MenuPages) say you can now blame a neurotransmitter called serotonin, or rather the periodic lack of it, for that time you drove a railroad tie through your wife’s foot because she finished the Honey Bunches of Oats:
Serotonin has long been associated with social behaviour, but its precise involvement in impulsive aggression has been controversial. Though many have hypothesised the link between serotonin and impulsivity, this is one of the first studies to show a causal link between the two.
Their findings highlight why some of us may become combative or aggressive when we haven’t eaten. The essential amino acid necessary for the body to create serotonin can only be obtained through diet. Therefore, our serotonin levels naturally decline when we don’t eat, an effect the researchers took advantage of in their experimental technique.
To derive their results, the scientists took otherwise healthy people and had them play a game in which two people are tasked with splitting a pot of money. If one makes an offer and the other accepts, both were given their share. If the second partner rejected the offer, neither got the money. People with low serotonin levels rejected their offers at a much higher rate than their counterparts, indicating increased aggression in social situations.
Also, that group killed the scientists, took the money, and burned the lab to the ground. Rumor has it that Piggy’s eyeglasses were never found.
New research explores role of serotonin in decision-making behaviour [University of Cambridge]
Food Is The Key To Hanger Management [MenuPages]