WE'VE all got our favourite 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 behaviour?' 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 savoury 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.
- Extraversion = outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved
- Agreeableness = friendly/compassionate vs. critical/rational
- Openness to experience = inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious
- Conscientiousness = efficient/organised vs. extravagant/careless
- Neuroticism = sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident
"Intriguingly, several of these traits correlate with various aspects of people’s food behaviour."
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Professor Spence continued to explain that one of the most common links between personality and food behaviour 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 behaviours than do introverts."
Extraverts are therefore more likely to choose a spicy dish than an introvert.
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"Novelty-seeking has also been linked to a preference for salty foods," he added.
"Anxious individuals tend to enjoy a much narrower range of
WHAT DOES YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL SAY ABOUT YOU?
"This often comes up as a comfort food," Professor Spence explained. "Something like like mac and cheese is particularly popular as a reassuring food for men when comfort eating. Perhaps one for the insecure personality type."
"This is the most family-orientated meal so it's one for sharing and socialising. Just think about it: no one has a roast dinner by themselves."
FISH AND CHIPS
"A more nostalgic dish. It can takes someone back to happy childhood memories eating fish and chips with their fingers by the seaside. Definitely one for a more nostalgic personality."
"This is the type of meal that became especially popular during the pandemic and it's not hard to see why. A food for people who like emotional reassurance from their meals, with nothing too challenging, just soft comforting textures."
"A very solitary food and one that's very self-contained. Perhaps a meal for more of an introvert personality."
"It depends how spicy it's made, but perhaps one for the explorer personality type – someone who likes sensation-seeking through strong flavours such as chilli."
"Another meal that promotes sharing and is therefore more commonly chosen by more of a social extrovert personality."
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.
"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."
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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.
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