Liking This Drink Reveals A Risk-Taking Personality

What liking certain foods and drinks reveals about your personality.

What liking certain foods and drinks reveals about your personality.

Risk-takers and sensation-seekers prefer bitter drinks, such as bitter beer, research finds.

Pale ales, which are generally more bitter than lagers, are preferred by thrill-seekers.

Other bitter drinks, such as strong coffee along with spicy foods, are particularly attractive to sensation-seekers.

Sensation-seeking is an aspect of extraversion, suggesting those who like bitter drinks are more extraverted.

In contrast, people who avoid bitter tastes, tend to have more agreeable personalities, previous research has found.

Dr John Hayes, study co-author, said:

“Traditionally, most researchers find that people who experience bitterness more intensely avoid bitter food or drink—so with heightened bitterness, they like it less, and therefore consume it less.

But here, we find that people who seek higher sensations and are more risk-taking, they like bitter beer such as India pale ales, if they also have greater bitter taste perception.”

For the study, 109 people rated their liking of two pale ales and a lager.

The results revealed that those with sensation-seeking personalities preferred the more bitter beer.

Ms Molly Higgins, the study’s first author, said:

“Our data contradict the classic view that bitterness is merely an aversive sensation that limits intake.

We found that increased bitterness perception does not always lead to decreased liking and intake—rather, it’s a positive attribute in some products for some consumers.”

Disliking bitter foods can be bad for health, said Ms Higgins:

“Avoidance of bitter foods can impact health negatively, because bitter foods such as cruciferous vegetables, green tea and grapefruit contain healthy compounds like flavonols, which are reported to have antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.”

Narcissists and psychopaths?

On the other hand, having a preference for bitter tastes is linked to psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism, some studies have found.

A predilection for bitter foods and drinks, therefore, could indicated some psychopathic tendencies in a person’s personality.

The study was published in the Food Quality and Preference (Higgins et al., 2020).


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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

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, 2013) and several ebooks.