Hungry Spouses Tend to Be More Aggressive Toward Their Partners

There is a link between blood sugar, self-control, and aggression toward one’s intimate partner, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“When glucose levels are low, people have more difficulty controlling their attention, regulating their emotions, and overriding their aggressive impulses,” the researchers wrote. “Some evidence suggests that low glucose levels might even increase the risk of violent criminal behavior, including spousal abuse.”

The study, conducted by Brad J. Bushman, a psychologist from The Ohio State University who specializes in the study of aggression, and researchers from the University of Kentucky, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and VU University in Amsterdam tested the blood glucose levels in 107 married couples and used voodoo dolls to test the couples’ aggression. The couples involved in the study measured their blood glucose levels twice a day for 21 days—once before breakfast and once before bedtime. The researchers gave each of the participants a voodoo doll, representing his or her spouse, and 51 pins. The participants stuck the pins in the dolls every evening, the number of pins depending on how angry they were with their spouse.

The results of the study, which was controlled based on the participants’ relationship satisfaction, showed that those with lower blood sugar levels at night were more aggressive and stuck more pins in their voodoo dolls than those with higher blood sugar levels. In another test of aggression involving a video game that allowed the winners to blast their spouses with loud, irritating noises such as a dentist drill and fingernails on a chalkboard, blood sugar levels also dictated the type, duration, and volume of the noise. Participants with lower blood sugar blasted their partners with louder noises for longer periods of time.

So, next time you open your mouth to criticize your spouse, consider putting a snack in it first.