We often make assumptions about people’s personalities based on the music they listen to, the brand of clothes they wear, their favorite color, and even what car they drive. And it’s true, what we do and the things we like are a reflection of who we are and our personal preferences. But did you know people can also tell something about us based on our favorite food flavors?
A slice of spice
As the saying goes: you are what you eat. Pennsylvania State University’s associate professor of food science John Hayes and university alum Nadia Byrnes conducted two studies (one in 2013 and the results of the second one that came out earlier this year) to take a closer look at the underlying personalities that were present in people who enjoyed spicy food.
The first study asked 97 people to rate the intensity of the spiciness of the food. Their answers were analyzed in correlation with a personality survey. It concluded that people who enjoyed eating spicy foods were more likely to look for thrills or sensations; these people were also identified as those who were sensitive to praises and rewards.
Taste for bitterness
Another study by Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer published in the journal Appetite in 2015 looked into how the preference for bitter taste is linked to antisocial personality traits. Over 1,000 participants were analyzed in two experiments. In the first one, 500 men and women were given a list of foods and asked to rate these on a six-point scoring system from “dislike strongly” to “like strongly.” After answering this, they completed four personality quizzes that asked them to rate the sentences that they identified with the most. These questions aimed to gauge how aggressive they could be.
The second part of the experiment sought to determine how strongly they agreed or disagreed with given statements such as “I tend to want others to pay attention to me” and “I tend to manipulate others to get my way.” They also answered questions related to extraversion, sadism, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.
In the second experiment, they assessed the food taste preference based on sweetness and bitterness and allowed the participants to choose “I don’t have an option” per food item listed, such as adding sugar and creamer into coffee, as this will hide some bitterness.
They concluded that people who preferred bitter tastes posed traits linked to psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Machiavellianism.
A 2011 study also investigated the correlation between people deemed as “sweet” to their preference for sugary foods. The researchers concluded that those who like candy, chocolate, and ice cream were often described friendly, patient, and exhibited traits that were helpful.
While we’re on the topic of sweets, did you know that your favorite ice cream flavor also says a lot about you?
Alan Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation has been studying the relevance of people’s taste preferences to their personality traits. Together with his team, he has studied the connection between our personalities with foods like ice cream, snacks, and even liquor.
For example, a study in the early 2000s looked into the correlation between personality types and vodka flavors. Hirsch and his team conducted the experiments and found that people who prefer cranberry vodka were those who worked too much and considered serious. Those who like vanilla vodka were emotionally driven and liked being around others, while peach vodka drinkers were described as enthusiastic and dramatic.
One of the most common things you hear about people who like vanilla ice cream is that they’re basic, boring and predictable. Here’s the catch: although vanilla is one of the plainest ice cream flavors on the spectrum, those who like it are actually more inclined to be emotionally expressive, impulsive, and idealistic risk-takers that listen more to intuition than logic.
If you’re into Rocky Road, several studies support that you are most likely goal-oriented and engaging, but can also be too aggressive for others and end up hurting those around you.
Butter pecan lovers are respectful, devoted, and hold themselves and others to a high standard of right and wrong. These people are considered conscientious, according to Hirsch’s study commissioned by Dreyer’s/Edy’s.
Do people ever call you argumentative? Is it safe to assume you like mint chocolate chip? In the same study for Dreyer’s/Edy’s, Hirsch found that people who preferred this flavor were ambitious, confident, and can be argumentative.
A study commissioned by Baskin Robbins and conducted by Hirsch’s team also found that strawberry lovers tended to be introverted. Fans of the flavor were also seen as thoughtful, devoted, logical, and tolerant.
Chocolate lovers are flirtatious and seductive, but can also be very gullible at times. Coffee lovers are lively people who thrive in the heat of the moment. They are often seen as needing constant reassurance and attention in relationships.
If you’re a cookie dough kind of person, you’re more likely to be seen as crafty. You are also most likely drawn to unique colors and patterns. You’re very homey, and not very extroverted. Pistachio fans can come off as quiet and reserved, but they actually have a strong personality intertwined with their creativity.
A Huffington Post article picked the brains of behavioral food expert Juliet Boghossian and a psychologist in food behaviors Julia Hormes to figure out if our eating habits said anything about our personalities.
Slow eaters don’t fall into the pressure of catching up to the rest of the table even when they’re the only one left eating. These people, said Boghossian, are confident and controlled. On the other hand, fast eaters are impatient. Their eating habits also tend to reflect how they enjoy life and the ways and means through which they take on their experiences.
Those who aren’t afraid to try the mystery menu are adventure-seekers, while those who refuse to try new foods come off as those who seek familiar sensations, and are inclined to be anxious and a little neurotic.
Another type of eater is the one that finishes one part of the plate’s contents before moving onto the next. Boghossian said this conveys a stubborn and disciplined personality, and task-oriented as well.
Did any of these things hit home for you? Let us know in the comments!