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

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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.

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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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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