Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People with a 'sweet tooth' have sweeter dispositions

Date:
November 23, 2011
Source:
North Dakota State University
Summary:
If you're dealing with a crabby co-worker or sour-faced friend, perhaps some new research can help. It sheds light on the question: Can eating sweets make you--well--sweet? A new study suggests people with a "sweet tooth" have sweeter dispositions.

If you’re dealing with a crabby co-worker or sour-faced friend, perhaps some new research can help. It sheds light on the question: Can eating sweets make you—well—sweet? A new study by researchers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, Gettysburg College and Saint Xavier University suggests people with a “sweet tooth” have sweeter dispositions. The research was conducted by Dr. Brian Meier, associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa.; Dr. Michael D. Robinson, NDSU professor of psychology; Dr. Sara Moeller, assistant professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Ill.; and Miles Riemer-Peltz of Gettysburg College.

The paper, “Sweet Taste Preferences and Experiences Predict Pro-Social Inferences, Personalities, and Behaviors,” is being published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

According to Meier, “Taste is something we experience every day. Our research examined whether metaphors that link taste preferences with pro-social experiences (e.g., “she’s a sweetheart”) can be used to shed light on actual personality traits and behavior.”

The research included a series of five studies. In one study, the authors found participants who ate a sweet food (a specific brand of chocolate), versus a non-sweet food (a cracker), or no food, were more likely to volunteer to help another person in need. The authors also found in another study that people believe that a person who likes sweet foods like candy or chocolate cake (compared to foods from the other four taste types) is also more agreeable or helpful, but not more extroverted or neurotic.

“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,” said Dr. Meier. “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.”

According to Dr. Robinson, “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.”

The authors also showed that people who like sweet foods, versus individuals who do not, were higher in the personality trait of agreeableness and were more likely to volunteer to help clean up their city after it experienced a major flood. In other words, the authors demonstrated people can predict how helpful or nice someone is, based on the extent to which whether he or she prefers eating sweet foods. Preferences for the other four taste types were not predictive of the pro-social trait of agreeableness.

The researchers say that taste metaphors may have different consequences for interpersonal functioning in other cultures. “Although we suggest our results are likely to be found in other cultures, that may not always be the case across all cultures,” said Dr. Meier, who suggests that cross-cultural research of the same type would be informative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Dakota State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian P. Meier, Sara K. Moeller, Miles Riemer-Peltz, Michael D. Robinson. Sweet taste preferences and experiences predict prosocial inferences, personalities, and behaviors.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011; DOI: 10.1037/a0025253

Cite This Page:

North Dakota State University. "People with a 'sweet tooth' have sweeter dispositions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018212346.htm>.
North Dakota State University. (2011, November 23). People with a 'sweet tooth' have sweeter dispositions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018212346.htm
North Dakota State University. "People with a 'sweet tooth' have sweeter dispositions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111018212346.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins