“I exercise strong self-control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.” — W.C. Fields
Mr. Fields, we applaud your dedication! And now, thanks to a recent study out of Austria, we may understand you and your gin loving posse a bit better as well.
Researchers at Innsbruck University found that those of us who love to sip on a gin-and-tonic are far more likely to have psychopathic tendencies than those who enjoy something sweeter.
“Bitter taste preferences are linked to malevolent personality traits,” they explained.
Researchers conducted two separate experiments on 1,000 people.
For the first, they asked 500 participants to examine a long list of food and drinks, ranking how much they liked each of them on a six-point scale.
They were then asked to complete four separate personality questionnaires, which measured their levels of aggression, Machiavellianism, emotional stability, and tendency towards ‘everyday sadism’.
This involved rating on a scale how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I enjoy tormenting people”, and “When making fun of someone, it is especially amusing if they realize what I’m doing.”
Researchers then repeated the experiment with another sample of 500 people, which reaffirmed the results of the first.
This means that people who enjoy bitter food and drinks, such as coffee, gin-and-tonic, radishes, dark chocolate, and citrus fruits, are more likely to display tendencies of “Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and everyday sadism”.
Sounds like a party to us!
Researchers weren’t examining why psychopaths prefer bitter foods; however, the study’s author, Christina Sagioglou, did have an explanation – in the wild, poisonous foods tend to taste bitter, which is why so many of us are naturally averse to them.
However one of the primary traits of a psychopath is a sense of fearless bravado – a sort of arrogant confidence that comes into play when bold action is required.
“Everyday sadism is a construct related to benign Masochism – the enjoyment of painful activities – which was first described and investigated by psychologist Paul Rozin,” said Sagioglou.
“To quote Paul Rozin for an explanation: ‘For the case of innately aversive foods, there may be the pleasure from the fact that the body is signaling rejection, but the person knows there is no real threat’.”
However, if gin is your jam, don’t despair: psychopathic tendencies aren’t all bad.
Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton has found that their bold temperaments make psychopaths more likely to be intelligent, assertive, and cool under pressure – which naturally makes them strong leaders.
They also tend not to take things personally, nor do they beat themselves up when things go wrong, choosing instead to focus on the positives.
And, finally, they are more likely to avoid procrastination than others (that’s us out of the running, then).
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