Scientists say your boss' preference for black coffee could mean they're a psychopath

Emma Haslett
Follow Emma
Is this your boss' morning coffee? Be afraid. (Source: Flickr / Craig Sunter)

Does your boss take their coffee strong and black? Do they recoil at the thought of cake? Good news: there's a chance they are a psychopath.

Two studies by researchers at Innsbruck University found people who have preferences for bitter flavours tend to be associated with "malevolent" personality traits.

Previous research has suggested both humans and primates are born with a preference for sweet tastes and an aversion to bitter and sour tastes: our taste for them is acquired through exposure.

Read more: LinkedIn's unveiled a job of the week and it's pretty sweet

But the studies, of 1,000 people, asked people to rate their preferences for sweet foods, such as chocolate cake; sour foods, such as lemons and vinegar; salty foods, such as beef jerky and bacon and bitter tastes, including coffee and radishes.

They then completed three quizzes – two testing them on their personalities, and one assessing their levels of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism.

The results suggested a preference for bitter tastes were positively associated with psychopathy, everyday sadism and trait aggression, and negatively associated with general agreeableness. People who loved bitter tastes were also more likely to like sour flavours, which themselves were correlated with trait aggression and everyday sexism.

Meanwhile, people with a taste for sweet foods were linked to "pro-social" personality characteristics, including intention to help, as well as decreased anxiety over death (ironically).

In other words: you are what you eat, and so is your boss.

Read more: Ranked: All the reasons your team hates you

Related articles