What is your favorite food taste

Researchers know what your favorite food says about your personality

"If you think about it, most of the time since the dawn of mankind we have simply eaten what was available," says John Hayes, professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. "If we haven't eaten what we have was available, then we ate according to the prevailing culture. You just have to think about the 1950s: You would probably have mostly eaten potatoes with overcooked spinach and egg. "

"Today," he continues, "you can get Chicken Tikka Masala on every corner."

Availability, culture and habits are important factors that have a decisive influence on what we eat. A handful of studies over the past few years have also found that personality traits influence what ends up in our stomachs.

Read more:Narcissists and psychopaths want to stay friends with their exes

Sharp means willing to take risks

Research by Hayes (who has been an avowed chili fan for over 20 years) and Nadia Byrnes, a former Pennsylvania State University graduate, suggests that thrill seekers and partying parties order their chicken when they can preferably with the hottest sauce. In two different studies, Hayes and Byrnes examined the role that personality plays in the consumption of spicy food.

In the first study, published in 2013, Byrnes and Hayes collected results from interviewing 97 people who rated the intensity of capsaicin (the active component of chili peppers). When analyzing the answers and comparing them with the results from a personality test, the two researchers found that people who increasingly sought out risky situations (for example, people who like to drive fast on winding roads) were also more likely to like and eat spicy food . They also found that people who were more responsive to positive feedback (people who like to be praised and love to win) were also more likely to eat spicy food.

The second study, which appeared this year, confirmed these results and also made another point clear: Although people who are more focused on rewards eat spicy food, that does not necessarily mean that they actually like it. This makes it clear, Hayes told Broadly, that “Personality has an impact on what we like, which in turn has an impact on what we eat; our personality can also influence our food intake without influencing our food preferences. "

It also shows how multifactorial our food choices are, he says. "It's not just about what we like to eat, but also about the culture and the environment in which we eat."

Enjoy your gin & tonic, you psychopaths. Symbol photo: cyclonebill | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Pretty cute

In 2011, another group of researchers investigated whether conceptual metaphors — for example, caring people labeled as "cute" —were actually able to provide insight into a person's personality processes. They conducted five different studies that included determining asked whether participants were willing to take part in another study without compensation, which the researchers found that people who liked sweets like candy, caramel, and chocolate cake tended to be kind and compassionate — sweet as sugar!

“People with a high level of tolerance preferred sweet food to people with a low level of tolerance,” the authors write, “and, perhaps more importantly, these sweet food preferences predicted the prosocial behavior measured in the laboratory to [who would be there: willingness to help, willingness to share and volunteer work]. "

On the other hand, people with a preference for black coffee, tonic water, and radish are more likely to be psychopaths. Last year Austrian researchers published a work for which a total of almost 1,000 people were interviewed. The researchers found that people who preferred bitter food and drinks were more likely to have anti-social personality traits. That said, they are more likely to be manipulative, hard-hearted, and / or insensitive.

A general preference for bitter food, it turns out, is a predicator of Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and common sadism.

"A general preference for bitter food has been shown to be a predictor of Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, and common sadism," the study's authors write. "The study's results also suggest that there is a direct link between the two Factors; that is, how much a person likes bitter food or drinks shows how gloomy their personality is. "

Life is like a box of chocolates

Alan Hirsch is a neurologist and psychologist with the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, specializing in treating people who have lost their sense of taste and smell. For years he has tried to establish a connection between taste preferences and personality traits. Although he is still at the very beginning of his scientific research, he has already written numerous books on the subject, among others What Flavor is Your Personality. As Hirsch says, he and his team have researched the taste preferences and personality profiles of more than 18,000 people and are now using this information to make a connection — from our favorite snacks and breakfast habits to our favorite ice creams.

Read more:What your Facebook posts really say about you

"Basically, everything we do reflects our underlying personality — which way we comb our head, what color our tie is, what shoes we wear, and even what kind of car we drive," Hirsch told Broadly. The only question is, are we smart enough to find out what that means? In principle, that's exactly what we're trying to do with food preferences. "

Why what we eat says so much about us, says Hirsch, could possibly be explained by our chronology. “Our personality develops between the ages of zero and seven. At the same time, our food preferences develop too, "he says.

Basically, everything we do reflects our underlying personality — which way we comb our head, what color our tie is, what shoes we wear, and even what kind of car we drive.

He also emphasizes that the parts of our brain that are responsible for our personality and house our smell and taste systems are in the same region. "Anatomically, they are very close together," he says. "That makes perfect sense."

Hayes, co-author of the spicy food study, suggests that the relationship between our food choices and personality traits may have to do with balancing natural selection. "Humans have always belonged to a tribe," he says. "If we look at the time when we were cavemen, then evolution shows not in a person, but in a tribe. We need people who stay at home and picking berries and we need people to go out and hunt mastodons. It is an advantage if we have people from both groups in our tribe. "

"It's part of being human," he continues. "The fact that this is reflected in our diet is probably not that surprising."

Follow Broadly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo: YellowBecky | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Get the best of VICE emailed to you every week!

By subscribing to the VICE newsletter, you consent to receiving electronic communications from VICE, which may contain advertising or sponsored content.