Parent-offspring similarity in hunger and thirst sensations

Richard J. Stevenson*, Daiana Martin-Rivera, Gabriela Dixon, Heather M. Francis

*Corresponding author for this work

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The internal (i.e., interoceptive) sensations that characterise hunger vary between people, and this may also be the case for thirst, although it has not been so well explored. There are probably both heritable and learning-based causes for this interoceptive variability. Consequently, it would seem plausible that parents and their offspring would have more similar patterns of hunger and thirst than pairs of strangers. We tested this idea, in addition to exploring its potential moderating variables, by studying the similarity of self-reported hunger and thirst sensations in 170 students and their primary caregivers from childhood. Both students and caregivers completed the same online-survey, covering hunger and thirst sensations, beliefs about the causes of hunger and thirst, the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (revised) and demographic data. We find evidence of robust student-caregiver similarity in interoceptive hunger and thirst sensations (medium effect sizes), with these being moderated by caregiver beliefs about the homeostatic nature of each state (medium effect sizes). This suggests a potential role for caregivers in the development of their offspring's interoceptive cues for hunger and for thirst. In addition, thirst, like hunger, appears to be multidimensional, and varies between people. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107208
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2024. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • development
  • heritable
  • hunger
  • interoception
  • learning
  • thirst


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