We all know that anyone who takes their coffee without any additives at all is probably a bit weird. Why anyone would choose a drink that tastes like children’s tears when you could have something sweet, creamy and covered in chocolate sprinkles is beyond most sensible people. But, however disturbing a black coffee may be, there is a secret truth behind regular drinkers that makes the whole situation even scarier.
According to a report published by two psychologists from the University of Innsbruck in Austria, there is a good chance that if you actually enjoy the astringency of a black coffee you may well be a psychopath. Sorry coffee snobs. It might be time to rethink that morning espresso shot you’ve grown so fond of.
The research, published as part of “Appetite: Multidisciplinary Research on Eating and Drinking”, outlines evidence to suggest that those individuals who prefer overly bitter or powerful tastes may have a tendency towards negative personality types. According to the article itself, studies on two American sample sets found a clear correlation, with “The results of both studies [confirming] the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy.” No wonder that barista at Starbucks keeps looking at you funny.
Look a little deeper into the science, and the situation gets even worse for coffee drinkers. Previous research has already established that those with a preference for sweet flavours are more likely to have “high levels of agreeableness”, according to the website “Health”. Study authors Tobias Greitemeyer and Christina Sagioglou both concluded that the inverse was also true, suggesting that “the results [of their experiment] suggest that how much people like bitter-tasting foods and drinks is stably tied to how dark their personality is.”
This revelation is not just restricted to a love of black coffee. Greitemeyer and Sagioglou also believe that the correlation extends to include other bitter foods and drinks, such as kale, radishes and tonic water. In a nutshell, the evidence is mounting that anyone who enjoys a morning coffee, followed by a kale super-smoothie needs to be stopped at all costs.
However, despite the compelling evidence provided in the study, researchers have stressed the need for caution. Speaking to “Health”, professor of psychology at Roosevelt University, Stephen Meyers said that, in reality, the association between taste preferences and personality was probably “very small”, adding that “you 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,” than you are by monitoring their coffee habits. In fact, even the study authors themselves state that “some connection between taste preferences and personality has been established, yet the evidence is still scarce.”
Even if the evidence connecting coffee and potential serial killers is still a little thin on the ground, it seems clear to me that we have more reason than ever to approach black coffee drinkers warily. At the very least, this study has helped but the rest of us on our toes. Just because someone likes kale, doesn’t mean that they aren’t Hannibal Lecter.