I’m a food psychologist – what your go-to meal really says about you

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We’ve all got our favorite foods.

And whether it’s ice cream, pizza, pasta or a roast dinner, every single choice says something about our personalities.

Charles Spence is a Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University and wrote an article titled ‘What is the link between personality and food behavior?’ that was published recently in volume five of the Current Research in Food Science journal.

“Researchers have established a number of robust links between personality characteristics and our preferences for, and sensitivity to, basic tastes such as sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and the mysterious fifth taste of umami (the savory or meaty taste of foods),” he explained in the article.

“According to the theory of the Big Five personality traits, five key factors determine a person’s personality.

  1. Extraversion = outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved
  2. Agreeableness = friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational
  3. Openness to experience = inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious
  4. Conscientiousness = efficient/organised vs. extravagant/careless
  5. Neuroticism = sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident
Anxious people tend to be less adventurous with their diet.
Shutterstock

“Intriguingly, several of these traits correlate with various aspects of people’s food behavior.”

Professor Spence continued to explain that one of the most common links between personality and food behavior stems from the dimension of extraversion or introversion.

“Extraverts tend to like more sensation, whether from the food they eat, or from the music that they listen to,” he added.

“Extraverts also tend to engage in more sensation-seeking behaviors than do introverts.”

Extraverts are therefore more likely to choose a spicy dish than an introvert.

“Novelty-seeking has also been linked to a preference for salty foods,” he added.

“Anxious individuals tend to enjoy a much narrower range of
foods.”

But, if you’re someone who is open to experiencing different things in life, it’s more likely that you’re open to trying new foods.

People who eat salty foods tend to be novelty seeking.
People who eat salty foods tend to be novelty seeking.
Shutterstock

“In one study, those participants who scored above average on openness ate about 4.5 more servings of combined fruit and vegetables per week than their peers who were less open,” Professor Spence continued.

“They also consumed less unhealthy food, such as potato chips or fries.”

It’s not good news if you’re a fan of bitter-tasting foods, however.

“As the authors of one study put it: ‘General bitter taste preferences emerged as a robust predictor for Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism and everyday sadism’,” he wrote.

Professor Spence is the author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.

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