Having a preference for bitter tastes is linked to psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism, a new study finds.
A predilection for tonic water or coffee, therefore, could indicated some psychopathic tendencies in a person’s personality.
In contrast, people who dislike bitter tastes tend to be more agreeable, the researchers discovered.
For the study 500 men and women were shown a list of foods, some of which were salty, sour, bitter and sweet.
Some common bitter foods and drinks included were radishes, unsweetened cocoa and vinegar.
People rated how much they liked each food or beverage and took a personality test which measured:
- and narcissism.
Bitter tastes may be particularly attractive to those with darker personalities because they enjoy sensation-seeking.
Darker personality types have a greater preference for the ups and downs of life.
They may even have a greater sensitivity to bitter foods, as the authors write:
“Supertasting, that is, having a high sensitivity to bitter compounds, has been consistently linked to increased emotionality in humans.
Nontasters, in contrast, report being more relaxed and placid than tasters.”
Caffeine and spicy foods have already been linked to sensation-seeking:
“…people high in sensation seeking tend to have an increased preference for spicy food.
Caffeine consumption is positively correlated with other facets of sensation seeking behavior, such as experience seeking and disinhibition.”
The authors describe their results:
“…bitter taste experiences are causally linked to hostile thoughts and behavior…
Particularly robust associations were found for everyday sadism, which was significantly predicted by general bitter taste preferences…”
The study was published in the journal Appetite (Sagioglou & Greitemeyer, 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Eric