Black Coffee Drinkers Are Sadistic Psychos: It’s Science!

Black Coffee Drinkers Are Sadistic Psychos: It’s Science!

Headline New study says you might be a psychopath if you like black coffee

A new study from the University of Innsbruck in Austria says that people who drink their coffee black often have psychopathic or sadistic traits…

The people behind the report surveyed more than 1,000 adults about their taste preferences with foods and drinks that are bitter. To get answers, the adults in the study took four different personality tests that examined traits like narcissism, aggression, sadism and psychopathy.

Interestingly, the study found that people who tend to like bitter foods such as black coffee or tonic water also had personality traits that could be seen as bitter and unpleasant.

“The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are 39 positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday 40 sadism and psychopathy,” the study says.

The peer-reviewed paper is “Individual differences in bitter taste preferences are associated with antisocial personality traits” by Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer in Appetite.

Regular readers can stop here, for this is yet another sorry tale of wee p-values and attempts to quantify the unquantifiable. If only somebody wrote a book exposing these pernicious methods, and offered a way of escape, then we would not be in this mess.

The paper opens with this stunning announcement: “Eating and drinking are universal social phenomena.”

From there we soar into the stratosphere: “The sense of taste is innately hedonic and biased.”

Who knew?

Skip it. Here is their main question: “Could it be that the extent to which people learn to relish bitter substances is related to their personality?” The obvious answer did not suggest itself to our authors, hence they conducted a survey. They asked a bunch of questions to people recruited on line (which they elevated to “studies”), and paid them sixty cents.

The questions were quantified, as is usual, but wrongheaded. It is believed by many that emotions and thought can be given unique numbers, which is bizarre—and false. How much do you agree with that sentiment on a scale of 42,000 to 1 googol?

One of the questions, to which we can be sure everybody answered absolutely honestly, knowing they were bring tracked, on a scale of 1 to 5, was “I have threatened people I know.”

They went from that to the so-called Dark Triade, which we have met before. “I tend to manipulate others to get my way”, “I tend to be callous or insensitive”, etc.

Many, many, many other pseudo-quantified questions followed. Then came the “bivariate correlations and multiple regression analyses”—and wee p-values. None of it done in a predictive sense, of course; everything was parametric.

Their “betas” (recalling the numerical scale ranges) were small, even trivial, meaning the differences in traits was not worth writing home about, but the “betas” did expose their wee p-values, which excited the authors. (Large sample sizes almost always give wee ps, which is one of the major failings of p-vlaues.)

You can feel their excitement (an 8.2 on a scale of -4 to 12) when they wrote “The present results provide the first empirical evidence for the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are linked to malevolent personality traits.”

And “Particularly robust associations were found for everyday sadism, which was significantly predicted by general bitter taste preferences when controlling for third variables across both studies.”

Control? “Drinking coffee with sugar and milk, for example, successfully masks most of its bitterness. Similar adjustments in preparation can lead to a number of items losing its original bitter taste.”

It wasn’t all lattes and soy milk flavorings, no, sir. There were some problems.

Further inconsistencies between the general and food specific measure arose. First, only the general taste preference measure was associated with less agreeableness. This raises questions as to which specific connotation of the general measure produced this correlation. We can only speculate about an answer.

Allow me to speculate. Scientists are so harassed into publishing anything that nonsense often results, because if they don’t publish, they lose their jobs.

“Also, in preferring bitter tasting foods more than less sadistic people, everyday sadists may perceive them as positive due to their potential to cause distaste, that is, to cause a negative experience in other people.”

How can you take this stuff seriously?


  1. John B()

    If we’re talking cofvefve, the p-values can’t be wee?

    “Particularly robust associations were found for everyday sadism, which was significantly predicted by general bitter taste preferences when controlling for third variables across both studies.”

    What were those third variables? Sound like they can pick and choose the variable for each data point? Is there a similar statement for CO2?

    Did they have control for:

    Dark Chocolate?
    Black Tea (straight)?

  2. Gary

    What about cultural influences on taste? Sensitivity of taste receptors? Mom’s culinary preferences?

  3. If they really wanted to know, they should have sent researchers with clipboards into coffee shops around the country, noting what people are drinking, and then asking the same personality questions in person — but not recording the answers, just pretending instead. The real dependent variable would be how many seconds it takes each coffee drinker to tell them to go take a flying leap off the roof. Adjusted statistically, of course, for age, how many people in the room with them, whether they’re doing homework or having a business meeting, their self-identified gender, and of course whether they have a mustache, since that association has already been proved with wee p-values. (The gender/mustache cross-tab would likely have special significance.)

    Of course they’d still want to pay each one 60¢ for their time.

  4. Sheri

    “The present results provide the first empirical evidence for the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are linked to malevolent personality traits.”

    Important FACT: “malevolent personality traits” is 100% SUBJECTIVE and cannot be considered scientific in any way. They are VALUE JUDGEMENTS.

  5. 100 percent subjective? Do you mean difficult to quantify for research purposes? Then I would agree. Or do you mean it’s a subjective decision for each person, and that what’s malevelent in one person’s eyes might be just fine in another’s? (That’s another, very frequent understanding for “subjective.”) if so, then no agreement after all.

  6. Hmm. I like espresso, gin and tonics, and cocktails with bitters in the recipe. Probably not surprising to most people reading this.

  7. I used to use a lot of cream and sweetener, but switched back in my big weight loss days. So now I drink it black. And I feel I am not psychopathic enough because I get online and see people making money, and read business stuff- and if I were at least a little bit more sociopathic, I might be able to rap my head around how to operate in this brave new world of low interest rate easy credit. Many modern companies don’t even make a profit, but burn through revenues to establish market share. Some of them are just looking to cash out at the IPO, but it appears (and appearances can be deceiving) that Amazon managed to pull it off. But it’s so contrary to decent human budgetary behavior- how do these people not feel under stress all day?

  8. Ray

    When Sociologists purport to measure something, I always ask what are the units of measurement and does the NIST have a standard for the measurement. The answer is always no. Their measurements are always imaginary.

  9. soy-disant

    black coffee. no whites need apply. racist.

  10. Hal44

    How relieved I am that 98.00% of the time I drink hot tea, instead of coffee! I am curious where I might fall on the Psycho Scale, as my preference of sweetener is the stuff in the pink package, which has been shown to kill lab rats, if the dosage is large enough.

  11. C-Marie

    Came late to this article, but thought it interesting. Black coffee is my drink, but it is Kenya AA… not the bitter stuff that became popular maybe 30 some years ago….popularized in the coffee shops so that, maybe, more money could be made because so many added “stuff and flavorings” to their coffee because it was soooo bitter, and thus less coffee was used, higher prices could maybe be charged, etc., more profit made???
    But, I do say, that I am none of the above characteristics…just selfish sometimes and am learning better ways give a much more peaceful life in Christ!
    God bless, C-Marie

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