A recent scientific study suggests that drinking coffee “black as your soul” might be more than a silly joke.
It turns out that people who enjoy bitter flavors, like coffee without cream or sugar, are more likely to be sadistic or even psychopathic. Does that sound like anyone you know?
Researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria surveyed over 1000 people about their favorite foods and then had them answer a questionnaire. That questionnaire measured personality traits such as narcissism, sadism, aggression, and psychopathy.
According to the paper they published in Appetite magazine about their results, people who like bitter tastes show “pronounced malevolent personality traits, especially robustly with everyday sadism.”
In case you couldn’t guess, everyday sadism is a pretty dark personality trait. It means that the person enjoys inflicting moderate pain on other people—the kind of person who probably plays mean pranks or dares friends to eat a super-spicy hot pepper.
The researchers concluded that people who seek out bitter, spicy, or other highly stimulating foods are more likely to show “sensation seeking” behavior in other parts of their lives. Basically, thrill junkies and alpha personalities usually like food that’s just as bold as they are.
“[T]he results suggest that how much people like bitter tasting foods and drinks is stably tied to how dark their personality is,” the researchers said.
People who like bitter tastes are less inhibited and less likely to be agreeable. It turns out that the opposite seems to be true, too. People with a major sweet tooth tend to be more social, cooperative, and kind.
What Does This Mean for You?
Should you run screaming out of the coffee shop if your date orders an espresso? Well, let’s not get too hasty. The researchers from the University of Innsbruck still aren’t sure why there’s a correlation between black coffee and psychopathy.
Steven Meyers, a professor of psychology at Roosevelt University, wasn’t convinced by the study. He told Health magazine: “[Y]ou are more likely to learn whether a person has aggressive or psychopathic tendencies in a restaurant by watching how they treat you or their waiter,” Meyers said, “compared to watching how much they enjoy their bitter foods and drink.”
There are a lot of reasons why a person might avoid cream and sugar. Maybe they’re just going Paleo—although if you don’t want to hear about their diet for the next 2 hours, maybe you should make a run for it after all!