A study that may as well have been sponsored by the folks who make Snickers finds that, to borrow the company's slogan, "you're not you when you're hungry."
The report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals something we all innately know: that hunger (or, more scientifically, low blood sugar) has the power to transform us into grumpy, irritable versions of ourselves.
But is this hunger-induced crankiness powerful enough to turn us against those we purportedly love? That's what lead author Brad Bushman and psychologist from Ohio State University wanted to find out.
To test this, he recruited 107 married couples, assessed the health of their relationships and taught them how to measure their blood sugar levels. Then, somewhat morbidly, he gave them each a voodoo doll and 51 pins.
"We told the participants this doll represented their spouse, and that every night before they went to bed they should stab the doll with pins depending on how angry they were with their spouse," Bushman told NPR.
The voodoo dolls belonging to those who recorded the lowest blood sugar levels before bed received a real stabbing -- after three weeks, Bushman and his team found that they were stuck more than twice as often as the dolls belonging to participants with the highest glucose levels.
"Regardless of how good somebody's relationship is, when they're hungry, they're more angry, and they stuck more pins in the doll," Bushman told the outlet. "What we conclude is that glucose is the food for the brain that we need to exercise self-control. And when people's glucose levels are low, they are poorer at exercising self-control."
All of this, of course, may still feel obvious, but it's an important reminder nonetheless. If low glucose levels caused participants to stab voodoo versions of their spouses, imagine the insidious ways hunger may be affecting your exchanges with colleagues (who, presumably, you didn't vow to be true to in sickness and in health).
The simple but important takeaway, then? Don't turn your employees into voodoo dolls; make sure you're properly fueled before dealing with an important situation at work, especially if it's stressful or emotional one.
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