When you think of a psychopath, do you visualize a knife-wielding killer or someone holding a gin and tonic?
According to a new study, both are correct.
In an attempt to figure out what a person’s taste preference says about their personality, psychologists from Austria’s Innsbruck University investigated how bitter food and drink preferences (like dark chocolate, coffee, and tonic water) might be associated with antisocial traits.
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For their experiment, the researchers studied 953 people by giving them a list of foods and drink that covered all the tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The subjects were then asked to rate each taste on a scale of one through six. They were also asked to rate a list of statements, including: “When making fun of someone, it is especially amusing if they realize what I’m doing,” “I enjoy tormenting people,” and “I sometimes replay my favorite scenes from gory slasher films.”
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,
According to the study, “Most notably, sweet taste experiences increased self-reported agreeableness and the intention to help and decreased death anxiety, whereas bitter taste experiences were shown to elicit harsher moral judgments and interpersonal hostility. Based on this reasoning, an increased preference for bitter taste should be related to a more hostile personality.”
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As this study notes, when we’re born, we naturally reject bitter tastes (as do oysters and protozoans, interestingly enough). In fact, survival depends on the consumption of sweet and the rejection of bitter substances, because sweet foods typically feature high caloric density whereas bitterness is often a marker for toxins.
According to Men’s Health, another study back in September also linked certain types of rap music to psychopathic tendencies. A survey found that those who prefer songs like Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” also have this charming trait.
Next time you’re at the bar, you might want to pay closer attention to the types of spirits and lyrics being consumed.