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(CBS LOCAL) — Have you ever found yourself getting angry after not eating food for a long time? It turns out that being “hangry” is a legitimate condition.

According to a new study conducted by doctoral students at the University of North Carolina, operating on an empty stomach can create a negative emotional response.

“We all know that hunger can sometimes affect our emotions and perceptions of the world around us,” said Jennifer MacCormack, a doctoral student at the department of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and lead author of the study. “It’s only recently that the expression ‘hangry,’ meaning bad-tempered or irritable because of hunger, was accepted by the Oxford Dictionary.”

MacCormack and her team conducted two online experiments with over 400 people around the country. Participants were asked to look at a series of pictures that would induce either a positive or negative response and were also asked to rate how hungry they were during the experiment.

“So there seems to be something special about unpleasant situations that makes people draw on their hunger feelings more than, say, in pleasant or neutral situations,” said MacCormack in a press release.

The study demonstrated that context and self-awareness are two major factors in determining how “hangry” someone is. MacCormack and her team believe there is a potential that these same themes can be applied when analyzing fatigue and inflammation, however further research needs to be done.

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