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Believe It or Not: Study Finds People Who Like Drinking Black Coffee Are More Likely to Be Psychopaths

Believe It or Not: Study Finds People Who Like Drinking Black Coffee Are More Likely to Be Psychopaths

A recently released Austrian study has people across the Internet buzzing about a possible link between those who drink black coffee and psychopathy. The Huffington Post announced that “People Who Order Coffee Black Are More Likely To Be Psychopaths,” and joked about how readers should take a second look at everyone in their lives who drinks black coffee.

Other Internet news sites have followed by reporting on this interesting link. But a closer look at the study itself shows that while there may be a tenuous link between black coffee and psychopathy, this does not mean you should start dumping milk and sugar in your coffee if you do not wish to visit a mental asylum.

The Study Is Not Actually About Coffee

The study, published at the University of Innsbruck, does not focus on coffee at all. The focus is on bitter-tasting substances, as the title is “Individual differences in bitter taste preferences are associated with antisocial personality traits.”

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This study analyzed whether different tastes could serve as an indicator for antisocial personality traits, and “confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy.”

So, if the study is correct, people who prefer bitter foods in general (as opposed to just black coffee) are the ones who are at greater risk for psychopathy. Some of these other bitter foods as defined by the study are grapefruit juice, tea, and cottage cheese. So coffee drinkers can feel better in that they are not alone in their potential malevolent habits.

There Are Issues With Defining Food by Their Taste Category

But even a link between those who like bitter foods and psychopathy is tenuous. The first problem is defining what foods are bitter.

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This study worked by having 953 individuals self-respond to a series of questions, a similar method to the one used in a recent e liquids study. First, the individuals were asked about specific foods which they liked. Then they were asked how much they liked sweet, sour, bitter, and salty foods. Finally, they took a personality test which among other factors looked for Machiavellian or psychopathic answers.

The first problem was that the foods which the Austrian researchers felt to be bitter were not the foods which the respondents thought were bitter. In addition to the foods mentioned above, the researchers defined seven other foods — coffee, rye bread, beer, radishes, tonic water, celery, and ginger ale — as bitter.

But as the study admits, “of the 10 bitter items, only half were perceived as predominantly bitter.” While coffee was one of those five perceived as bitter, the fact that there was such a discrepancy in what constituted a bitter food is a significant weakness in this study. How can you define a link between bitterness and psychopathy if you cannot properly define what bitterness is?

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The Study Was Largely Self-Reported

This was perhaps the biggest flaw of this study. As the Washington Post observes, studies which get their subjects through self-reporting are notoriously unreliable. This is especially true for a psychological study, as people are very bad at assessing their own capabilities and personality. Consider how no one thinks of himself as a jerk, regardless of how he might appear to others.

Respondents were also only paid anywhere from 60 cents to a dollar for responding to this survey, and then had to answer a set of over 50 questions. It is perfectly plausible that respondents could have just focused on answering the questions as soon as possible without seriously considering their answers.

While a study like this can reach a conclusion faster than a years or decades-long study analyzing a link between bitter tasting substances and psychopathy, there are too many flaws with how this study was conducted to reach a definitive conclusion with it.

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Nothing To Worry About for Moderate Coffee Drinkers

Although a link between black coffee and psychopathy would be interesting, there is just not enough in this study to confidently declare that such a link exists. The study did not focus on black coffee to begin with, there were disagreements for what properly constituted bitter foods, and the survey sample was very unreliable.

So, drinking coffee is not a sign of poor mental health. And while society does worry about a world where we seem to be more and more dependent on caffeine, there are reliable studies which indicate a positive relationship between coffee and cardiovascular health.

While excessive caffeine consumption — as in more than two cups of coffee a day — can pose health problems, this just means that coffee drinkers have to exercise moderation to keep those health benefits.

So brew yourself another cup and drink it. That cup is not a sign that you will find yourself hissing at unsuspecting police officers.

Featured photo credit: Porsche Brosseau via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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