Why Some Like It Hot: Personality May Sway Food Choices

THURSDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Whether you prefer spicy meals or bland foods may be a matter of personality, a new study suggests.

Researchers gave personality tests to 184 nonsmokers, aged 18 to 45, to see if they had either a sensation-seeking personality (someone who is open to new experiences and willing to take risks) or a more sedate personality and less open to such things.

The participants were then given a small amount of capsaicin, the hot component of chili peppers, and asked to rate how much they liked a spicy meal as the burn from the capsaicin increased in intensity.

Those with sensation-seeking personalities continued to say they liked the spicy meal even as the burn from the capsaicin increased, while those with more sedate personalities disliked the meal as the burn increased, according to the study. The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago.

"Theoretically, we know that burn intensity and liking are linear-related," study author Nadia Byrnes, of Pennsylvania State University, said in an institute news release. "The more irritating a compound or food gets, the less people should like it. But that's not always the case."

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about personality.

SOURCE: Institute of Food Technologists, news release, July 17, 2013

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