As a guy whose stomach is getting steadily bigger by the day it’s no hidden secret I love food and drink. Not in a classy way, more in a gluttonous way.
I love few things more than piling grub onto a plate – of unfathomable proportion. I like to feel rotten after a meal. To feel the skin stretching around my belly as my gut bellows over my jeans. In a whole world of regret.
I’m not afraid to say it, but I like bitter food and drink too. I like black coffee, grapefruit, lemons, limes, ginger, cheap lager and stout, but apparently, this makes me a psychopath.
Yes, according to a new study of almost 1,000 people, carried out at Innsbruck University in Austria, people who enjoy bitter food and drink are the same folk who like waterboarding OAP’s in their spare time.
In the study, led by Professor Christina Sagioglou, 500 men and women were shown a list of foods with equal numbers of sweet, salty, sour and bitter items.
They were asked to rate the foods, including chocolate cake, bacon, vinegar and radishes, on a six-point scale ranging from dislike strongly to like strongly. The participants then completed four separate personality questionnaires.
Participants had their aggression levels measured initially – they were asked to rate statements like, ‘Given enough provocation, I may hit someone.
They were then asked to rate phrases which were said to assess the personality traits of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism.
Then, those who were a part of the study were asked questions relating to the ‘Big 5′ – personality dimensions of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability.
As a last task, they then had to complete the Comprehensive Assessment of Sadistic Tendencies, which is believed to evaluate tendencies towards everyday sadism’.
A similar experiment involving 450 people confirmed the findings.
The study, published in the journal Appetite, found:
General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism.
The researchers also said traits such as; agreeableness, the degree to which a person is kind, sympathetic and cooperative, had a negative correlation with a partiality for bitter foods.
Dr Sagioglou stated how consuming foods with a bitter taste may be ‘compared to a rollercoaster ride where people enjoy things that induce fear’, concluding:
We found particularly robust correlations with everyday sadism . . . [which is] a construct related to benign masochism—the enjoyment of painful activities.
Although the reason behind it isn’t clear, one theory is bitter foods in the wild were typically poisonous, so while most of us wouldn’t want to ingest something potentially deadly, psychopaths got slightly turned on by the possibility of danger.
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Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.