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People Who Prefer Bitter Flavours Are More Likely to Be Psychopaths, Finds Research

Still from 'American Psycho' used for representation.

Still from 'American Psycho' used for representation.

Taste preferences have been found to serve as the overall strongest predictor of traits when compared to the other taste preferences such as sweet, sour and salty.

A survey and research has revealed that people who opt for bitter tasting food items and drinks can be psychopaths. Those who enjoy bitter flavours such as Gin and Tonic, dark chocolate, and black coffee are more likely to be sadists, narcissists and Machiavellians.

The study was conducted by psychologists from Innsbruck University in Austria, and the results have been published in Appetite. This proves that “bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits” and a person who likes the bitter taste will also engage in day to day sadist activities. Some of the other traits displayed by them are being selfish, or cold-hearted, and lacking empathy.

To arrive at the result, the scientists conducted two tests on 953 sample people. Several men and women were first shown a list of food items which can be demarcated in bitter, sour, salty and sweet flavours.

Then, the candidates were asked to rate each item on the list on a six-point scale. In the other test, they were asked certain personality questions to measure their “levels of emotional stability, Machiavellianism, aggression and a ‘tendency towards everyday sadism.” Some of these questions were branded to be “weird” so that the inner inclination of the participants could be ascertained. For example, one question asked if they enjoyed tormenting people.

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After this, the researchers tallied the files received from the two experiments and they found that those who chose bitter foods and drinks as their favourite also selected the apathetic and sadist traits. Alongside this hypothesis, the scientists also cited examples of human new-borns, primate infants and adults preferring sweet food and having an aversion to bitter and sour tastes, to support their result.

In the report, the team said, “The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy.” They further said that regression analyses have confirmed this association as bitter taste preferences have been found to serve as the overall strongest predictor of traits when compared to the other taste preferences such as sweet, sour and salty.

“The data thereby provide novel insights into the relationship between personality and the ubiquitous behaviours of eating drinking by consistently demonstrating a robust relation between increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities,” researchers Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer concluded.

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