Will Eating Sweets Make You Sweeter?

Researchers find link between food preferences and personality

FRIDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- If you have a sweet tooth, you may have a sweeter personality.

That's the finding of U.S. researchers who conducted a series of experiments that compared people's tastes for sweets with their behavior.

One test found that people who ate chocolate were more likely to volunteer to help another person in need, compared to those who ate a cracker or no food. Another test found that people tend to believe that people who like sweet foods are also more agreeable or helpful, but not more extroverted or neurotic.

"Our results suggest there is a real link between sweet tastes and pro-social behavior. Such findings reveal that metaphors can lead to unique and provocative predictions about people's behaviors and personality traits," Michael D. Robinson, a psychology professor at North Dakota State University in Fargo, said in a university news release.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"It is striking that helpful and friendly people are considered 'sweet' because taste would seem to have little in common with personality or behavior. Yet, recent psychological theories of embodied metaphor led us to hypothesize that seemingly innocuous metaphors can be used to derive novel insights about personality and behavior," Brian Meier, an associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, in Pennsylvania, said in the news release.

"Importantly, our taste studies controlled for positive mood so the effects we found are not due to the happy or rewarding feeling one may have after eating a sweet food," he added.

Meier, noting that the findings might not apply across all cultures, said similar cross-cultural research would be informative.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about personality.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: North Dakota State University, news release, October 2011

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