Sweethearts Tend to Hit the Sweets, Says Study

Oct 19, 2011 8:45pm

As Halloween approaches, parents around the country will warn their kids not to eat all their candy at once. It may rot their teeth out and make them gain a few pounds, but it also may show just how sweet they are.

That’s according to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Brian Meier, an associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, and his colleagues analyzed five studies that related to taste and behavior. Even after controlling for positive mood and reward, researchers found that people who eat sweet foods tend to be more agreeable and cooperative than those who eat non-sweet foods.

“It looks like metaphors related to taste sensations in terms of behavior are more than just devices for communication,” said Meier. “There is this theory of embodiment. People who we considered ‘sweet’ preferred sweet foods.”

Those who enjoyed sweets also seemed to be more likely to volunteer. Specifically for one study, people were more likely to help clean up their city after a major flood.

Of course, several limitations put the results in question. The studies were small -the largest included 108 participants. The results were self-reported, correlated in result, and researchers did not test for other tastes (i.e. are people who prefer bitter foods more bitter by nature?).

So, it’s a bit early to say that people who eat sweets are sweeter and those who load on the salt are saltier, but researchers plan to expand their research in the future by studying other tastes.

“We’d like to examine taste with other personalities,” said Meier. “It may tell us a lot more about how people differ in nature than we think it does.”

In the meantime, go ahead and eat that bit of chocolate. Hey, you’re just showing others how darn sweet you are.

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