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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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