People who like sweet foods literally have a sweeter personality, a psychology study finds.
Helpful people who volunteer to do good deeds prefer sweet foods, plus they are higher on the personality trait of agreeableness, the researchers found.
Professor Michael D. Robinson, study co-author, said:
“Our results suggest there is a real link between sweet tastes and pro-social behavior.
Such findings reveal that metaphors can lead to unique and provocative predictions about people’s behaviors and personality traits.”
For the research, participants tasted sweet or non-sweet foods and were asked about their views on food and personality.
Dr. Brian Meier, the study’s first author, said:
“Taste is something we experience every day.
Our research examined whether metaphors that link taste preferences with pro-social experiences (e.g., “she’s a sweetheart”) can be used to shed light on actual personality traits and behavior.”
The results revealed that people intuitively believe that those who like sweet food also have sweet personalities.
Dr Meier said:
“It is striking that helpful and friendly people are considered ‘sweet’ because taste would seem to have little in common with personality or behavior.
Yet, recent psychological theories of embodied metaphor led us to hypothesize that seemingly innocuous metaphors can be used to derive novel insights about personality and behavior.
Importantly, our taste studies controlled for positive mood so the effects we found are not due to the happy or rewarding feeling one may have after eating a sweet food.”
The results may not be the same in different cultures, Dr Meier said:
“Although we suggest our results are likely to be found in other cultures, that may not always be the case across all cultures.”
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
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Meier et al., 2011).