Advertisement
Munchies

Scientists Say Psychopathic People Really Like Bitter Food

Are you one of them?

by Alex Swerdloff
Oct 9 2015, 5:00pm

It may sound as if we made this up, but we didn't. Researchers from Innsbruck University in Austria studied almost 1,000 people and came to this conclusion: people who enjoy bitter food are nasty, bitter people.

Duplicitous. Self-serving. Cold-hearted. Vain, selfish, sadistic, narcissistic—even psychopathic. Turns out that the people who would be sorted into Slytherin have something else in common. They have a particular liking for tastes that the rest of us characterize as bitter. We're talking about radishes and quinine, unsweetened cocoa and strong coffee.

According to the researchers, 'The results suggest that how much people like bitter-tasting foods and drinks is stably tied to how dark their personality is." These findings are the "first empirical evidence that bitter taste preferences are linked to malevolent personality traits." Not one but two experiments proved this to be so.

In the first experiment, a group of 500 people were asked to rate how much they liked certain foods. These men and women, with an average age of 35, then completed four different personality questionnaires. The questionnaires tested levels of aggression, with "given enough provocation, I may hit someone"-type of questions. They examined personality traits ("I tend to be callous or insensitive"). They also classified the participants among the "Big five" personality characteristics of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. And the participants were given something called the Comprehensive Assessment of Sadistic Tendencies—yes, apparently there is such a test.

It turned out that people who said things like "I enjoy tormenting people" were the same people who really had a yen for radishes and tonic water. Anyone else getting the creeps? A second experiment confirmed the results of the first. In it, 450 people were tested.

The researchers explained in the journal Appetite, "General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism."

Your run-of-the-mill serial killer may get some kind of thrill from eating bitter foods. After all, in the wild, plants that are poisonous tend to be bitter—and scientists say that may be why we non-psychopaths find bitter foods to be unappealing.

And agreeable, kind, sympathetic and cooperative people? They tend not to like bitter foods.

The researchers were at a bit of a loss as to why the weird correlation between bitter foods and psychopathic personalities exists. They did speculate, however, that your run-of-the-mill serial killer may get some kind of thrill from eating bitter foods. After all, in the wild, plants that are poisonous tend to be bitter—and scientists say that may be why we non-psychopaths find bitter foods to be unappealing. A psychopath might get a thrill ingesting something potentially dangerous.

Christina Sagioglou, author of the study, said that eating bitter foods may be "compared to a rollercoaster ride where people enjoy things that induce fear."

These bitter-eating people are seriously creepy. "We found particularly robust correlations with everyday sadism . . . [which is] a construct related to benign masochism—the enjoyment of painful activities," the researches say.

Are we the only ones who want to give all our friends and acquaintances, co-workers, and colleagues a taste test?

Wait. This could change law enforcement forever. Gin and tonic, anyone?