Could a taste for bitter food mean you're a psychopath?
What do you first notice about a new acquaintance or on a first date? While some people focus on the shoes or clothes, others go by eyes and smile. But now scientists claim you should be taking note of what a person eats or drinks to find out what they're really like.
New research concludes that people who enjoy anything with a bitter taste are more likely to be prone to Machiavellianism, sadism and narcissism. This means they could be duplicitous, vain and lacking in empathy.
Psychologists at the Innsbruck University in Austria studied 1,000 people in separate experiments. They claim this is the first time a link between bitter taste preference and "malevolent personality traits" has been made.
"The results suggest that how much people like bitter-tasting foods and drinks is stably tied to how dark their personality is," they concluded.
If you're wondering what counts as bitter, the experiment used products like unsweetened cocoa, black coffee and tonic water. Focusing on 500 men and women, the researchers showed participants a list of foods with equal numbers of sweet, salty, sour and bitter products. They were asked to rate how much they liked each item on a six-point scale, from dislike strongly to like strongly.
This was followed up by four personality questionnaires. One measured aggression, another the personality traits of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism, a third the Big 5 personality traits - extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability - and finally, the tendency towards everyday sadism or the Comprehensive Assessment of Sadistic Tendencies.
A second, similar experiment of 450 people seemed to confirm the initial research findings.
"General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism," was confirmed in journal Appetite.
As for why this was the case, it could be linked to enjoyment of fear and the thrill it provides. Bitter foods often signal to our brain that they're poisonous, which could add an element of risk. So if you want to make a good impression on your next date, think about adding a spoonful of sugar to your coffee!