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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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