A study has found that people with psychopathic tendencies are more likely to prefer bitter foods and drinks

It is the quintessentially British drink that was once forgotten. Year upon year more and more micro-distilleries are opening, more gin bars are cutting the big red ribbon and gin is on the rise to beat vodka in the race to be the spirit of the age. Liverpool – a city well known for its spirit but the only difference is this time it doesn’t half go well with tonic. The world has gone gin mad as the spirit makes a ‘resurgince’ (took us half a day to come up with that). The only bad thing is that research suggests a love of gin could be linked to psychopathic tendencies.


Researchers found that those who opted for drinks like coffee and tonic water were more likely to exhibit signs of Machiavellianism, sadism and narcissism.  That is, they were more prone to being duplicitous, cold-hearted and lacking in empathy, vain and selfish, and more likely to derive pleasure from other people’s pain.The results were derived from two experiments conducted on 1,000 people by Innsbruck University in Austria.

For the first experiment, 500 men and women were shown a long list of foods with equal numbers of sweet, salty, sour and bitter foods. These included chocolate cake, bacon, vinegar and radishes. They were asked to score how much they liked each of them on a six-point scale ranging from dislike strongly to like strongly. This involved rating on a scale how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as ‘Given enough provocation, I may hit someone’, and ‘I enjoy tormenting people’.

Researchers then repeated the experiment with another sample of 500 people, which confirmed the results of the first. ‘General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism,’ the researchers wrote in the journal Appetite. Agreeableness and cooperativeness, however, were negatively correlated with bitter taste preferences, they added.


Although the researchers did not conclude why people with these traits prefer bitter foods, they suggested that they may experience a kind of ‘thrill’ from them. In the wild, bitter plants tend to signal that they may be poisonous, which is why many of us avoid eating consuming bitter-tasting foods. If you’re a fan of G&T however, it’s not all bad news – Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton has found that psychopaths are more likely to be smart, assertive, and cool under pressure – which naturally makes them strong leaders in the business world.

We’ll drink to that.