Hunger Sense Overview I

The sense of hunger, like thirst, is a physiological response to a need for sustenance. There is an urgency to relieve this experience in order to be well nourished. Although the sensation of hunger is less pronounced than that of thirst, this sense must be accommodated in order to survive. To be hungry is not only about the need for food, but the need for healthy, useful food. One can eat a bag of chips and still feel hungry, because the food lacks nutritional needs. One may feel the sense of hunger even if the stomach is full. Hunger pairs well with the sense of taste, but the designer may very likely use thirst also when designing for this sense.

Although it is not a comfortable feeling, hunger is a very important sense that provides a warning and alarm when we need to eat. Similar to thirst, the sense of hunger may be brought on by influence from others or acknowledgement of fine tasting foods. This is different than true hunger, but the designer can use these other forms that hunger brings in order to design a project. No one wants to be hungry, and so this is not a sense we seek out. For this reason, we should be very careful when using the sense. However, the introduction of hunger can really make a statement in design, as very few, if any, designers have used it in previous projects.

Nearly any animal has the sense of hunger, and it surely developed through time and evolution to let its host focus on gaining food, instead of whatever other needs and desires were being addressed. In this way, it is a very important sense, because it does not allow the individual to die of starvation, even with the many stimuli harrying that person in the environment. This seems ridiculous from our perspective because we have the sense, however surely one that does not experience the sense of hunger must be monitored in order to not pass on from lack of food.

We experience hunger when we have not met our nutritional needs. This is likely before or in lieu of a meal, so it is likely we would experience hunger in the morning, afternoon, and evening, if we follow a typical eating schedule. We might have this sense of hunger after a great deal of exercise, because we have burned so many calories, and we want to gain back what we have lost. Another time is when we see others eating. The external context may either be accidental or happenstance, or it may be because of propaganda and intention. Finally, another reason for hunger is because of poor eating habits, where the individual eats a lot of junk food, or they are lacking some specific nutrients either because of environmental conditions or poor choices.

Hunger can happen anywhere, especially if one of the conditions listed above occurs. However, the sense of hunger is really related to time, rather than to space, at least in most cases. But, hunger is brought on by food availability, access, or nutritional content. In this way, we can argue that hunger is related to location in specific instances.

The sense of hunger is uncomfortable and possibly even painful, and it is experienced on an individual basis. A group will not be hungry all at once, unless they have had the same experience throughout the day, so it is a personal and individual sense that is similar to many of the forms of touch, taste, and thirst. The sense of hunger is not broadcast, like those of smell, sound, and vision. So, there is a clear divide between the personal senses and the shared senses. In addition, hunger has the need or alarm of thirst, which the forms of touch do not, besides nociception. However, hunger shares the experiential thrill of touch in that the presence of the sense awakens the body to action.

Some may say we should not use the sense of hunger in a design, but hunger brings motivation to find food, and gives the individual an opportunity to partake in eating new or interesting foods that sate the appetite. The designer can set up the conditions and carry the visitor just long enough to be ravenous to enjoy suffer or enjoy some food. To ensure the sense is brought about, we can design the environment to burn calories, encourage hunger, or provide a sympathetic response where the visitor sees others eating. Furthermore, the introduction of this sense provides an opportunity to use the sense of taste to satisfy the urge and cravings.


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