If you or someone you love likes black coffee and other bitter foods, watch out — that could mean you’re a psychopath.
Luckily, the research that has made such a shocking declaration is brand new, so don’t start locking your doors or swearing off black coffee. But the study, released by scientists in Austria, does make some pretty fascinating connections between what we eat and who we are.
The psychopathic personality is also called Machiavellianism in psychology and refers to people whose personalities are dark, narcissistic, and sadistic, Huffington Post explained. People with these rather unpleasant traits tend to be two-faced, selfish and enjoy inflicting pain on others, The Independent reported.
The connection between being a psychopath and black coffee, for example, actually makes sense. Bitter snacks aren’t exactly tasty — not in the way Oreos are tasty — and eating such foods can be considered an unpleasant activity.
And what does a psychopath love more than an unpleasant activity?
According to Professor Christina Sagioglou, who led the study, eating such items is like “a rollercoaster ride where people enjoy things that induce fear. We found particularly robust correlations with everyday sadism… [which is] a construct related to benign masochism—the enjoyment of painful activities.”
Black coffee isn’t the only thing preferred by the psychopath. A psychopath also likes radishes, celery, tonic water, and grapefruit.
So how did researchers reach this disturbing conclusion? They started with 1,000 people, who were given a list of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods (on the menu: chocolate cake, bacon, vinegar, and radishes). Participants were asked to rate each, and they were given four different personality tests.
One measured aggression, another determined if they possessed the personality traits of a psychopath, a third measured personality dimensions, and a fourth determined if they enjoyed “everyday sadism.”
With these two sets of data, researchers concluded that enjoying flavors like black coffee or a nice hunk of grapefruit were linked to being a psychopath. Another experiment with 450 people repeated this finding. “General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism,” the study concluded.
According to The Telegraph, the study also determined that it was much easier to gauge someone’s personality based on their enjoyment of unpleasant flavors compared to any other foods. Such preferences are “stably tied to how dark their personality is.”
And that’s a shame for black coffee, since the drink does have numerous health benefits, including decreased cancer risk and improved brain function, the Post added.
However, the study size was small, and at the very least, it only proves that there’s some connection between personality and eating habits. Food preferences actually change over time and whether or not someone likes bitter foods when they’re 40 doesn’t mean they’ll reach for a fistful of radishes when they’re 60.
And being a psychopath isn’t quite so temporary. Psychology Today defines a psychopath as someone who can be normal and charming on the outside, but apathetic and lacking conscience on the inside. They can be manipulative and volatile, but they’re not always criminals and come in many varieties beyond the murderous lunatics you see in the movies. Their most frightening and fascinating trait is that they can’t be treated.
Moreover, Gizmodo pointed out one critical flaw with the test. Researchers didn’t have participants actually eat the foods or drink the black coffee they were studying but rated them based on their memory and belief about what they liked. And this is a problem, Ria Misra wrote, because “people are liars,” and what we like is “shaped by the moment.”
Interestingly, the study also found that people who are kind, sympathetic, and cooperative really hated black coffee and really liked sweets.
[Photo Courtesy DAN SCANDAL / Shutterstock]