The study …
Individual differences in bitter taste preferences are associated with antisocial personality traits
- Bitter taste preferences are positively associated with antisocial personality traits.
- Bitter taste preferences most robustly predict everyday sadism.
- Results suggest close relationship between the gustatory system and personality.
In two studies, we investigated how bitter taste preferences might be associated with antisocial personality traits. Two US American community samples (total N = 953; mean age = 35.65 years; 48% females) self-reported their taste preferences using two complementary preference measures and answered a number of personality questionnaires assessing Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, everyday sadism, trait aggression, and the Big Five factors of personality. 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. Regression analyses confirmed that this association holds when controlling for sweet, sour, and salty taste preferences and that bitter taste preferences are the overall strongest predictor compared to the other taste preferences. The data thereby provide novel insights into the relationship between personality and the ubiquitous behaviors of eating and drinking by consistently demonstrating a robust relation between increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities. <Source>
As reported in the media …
Psychopaths drink their coffee black, study finds
If you like your coffee black, you may be someone who prefers strong flavours, takes good care of their health, or just wants to drink their coffee the way it’s supposed to be drunk. Or, you may be a psychopath.
At least, that’s according to a new study published in the journal Appetite, which found a correlation between a love of black coffee and sadist or psychopathic tendencies.
The research surveyed more than 1,000 adults, asking them to give their food and flavour preferences. The participants then took a series of personality tests assessing antisocial personality traits, such as sadism, narcissism and psychopathy.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Innsbruck, found that a preference for bitter flavours was linked to psychopathic behaviour. The closest association was between bitter foods and “everyday sadism” – that is to say, enjoyment of inflicting moderate levels of pain on others.
And it isn’t just black coffee that should ring alarm bells – the study also found participants who reported a fondness for radishes, celery and tonic water were also more likely to exhibit antisocial traits.
This is not the first time research has found a link between taste and personality. Previous studies have shown sweet taste experiences increase “agreeableness” and eagerness to help, while bitter taste experiences increase hostility and elicit harsher moral judgments.
The researchers Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer believe this association may “become chronic” in people who have a strong liking for bitter flavours, and lead them to have more hostile personalities. So if your next Tinder date orders strong, black coffee at the end of a meal, or reaches over for a stick of celery, you have been warned. <Source>
Correlation is a tricky thing …
One could posit that there is a 99.999999999 percent correlation between any disease and those who drink water. The observation is so broad as to be unhelpful in understanding diseases or even the cause of science. Pick any group of people with the same characteristics and behaviors and then look for a common denominator may lead one to false and dangerous conclusions.
Are we to believe that someone who expresses a fondness for radishes, celery, and tonic water is more prone to exhibit aberrant behavior? Or could they be overweight and this is their salad diet being consumed with tonic water? Or could they be alcoholics because these ingredients are found in mixed drinks?
Bottom Line …
For those medical practitioners who are looking for a gold standard to diagnose disease and dysfunction, correlations studies may represent a clear and present danger. First, leading a diagnostician into overlooking the underlying cause of the dysfunction to the patient's detriment, and two, to misinterpret what they are seeing as a confirmation of their own beliefs, prejudices, and biases. (Confirmation bias.)
Personally, I believe that there is an extremely high correlation between those researchers who need to publish for professional reasons and the plethora of correlation studies, especially those who use other people’s research data without factoring in controls or co-morbidities.
Be careful of statistically derived conclusions as they can lead you down a never-ending rabbit hole.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius