Those who enjoy bitter taste could be psychopaths: study

They say you are what you eat. Now researchers have taken this a step further with the discovery that psychopaths enjoy bitter flavours like dark chocolate or gin and tonic.

Food habits can define the personality traits, the recent study claims. A group of researchers from Austria conducted a study at Innsbruck University and found that those who enjoy bitter flavours may have undesirable traits like sadism, narcissism, psychosis and Machiavellianism.

This study consisted of two experiments and examined 953 people. Both males and females were given a list of food and beverages, and were asked to rate the edibles and drinks on a six-point scale. There were liquids and solids of different tastes like sour, sweet, bitter and salty.

The participants also received a personality questionnaire to fill up, in which the aim was to measure the levels of the emotional maturity on specific emotions such as aggression, likelihood en route for brutality, psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism (a manipulative trait) and "tendency towards everyday sadism." One question was on the questionnaire was, do people enjoy torturing others?

The findings showed that those who preferred bitter tasting food and drink also showed more antisocial tendencies.

The study was conducted by Dr Christian Sagioglou and Dr Tobias Greitemeyer. The findings said, "Supertasting, that is, having a high sensitivity to bitter compounds, has been consistently linked to increased emotionality in humans and rats.

"Bitter taste experiences were shown to elicit harsher moral judgments and interpersonal hostility" – in other words, those who enjoyed bitter foods and drinks showed more negative personality traits like narcissism and sadism.

On the basis of the study, bitter taste choices are correlated with wicked personality attributes.

The research has not suggested the particular reason behind the behaviour.