Black coffee lovers, science says you all share this unusual personality trait

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Kayleigh Dray
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Ah, black coffee: there’s just something so impossibly glamorous about taking your morning cuppa as “black as night” (and “sweet as sin”, to quote Neil Gaiman).

When you ditch the dairy, all of those gloriously bitter, roasted, smooth flavours are amplified to the max – and the caffeine hits your system just that extra bit quicker, making it the bevvy of choice for any dedicated night owl.

But, as it turns out, there’s an even darker side to our dark drink than we realised.

Yup, you guessed it: people who take their coffee black are far more likely to be psychopaths.

study published in the journal Appetite, has found a genuine correlation between your average cuppa joe and “everyday sadism” (aka a desire to see or inflict pain upon others).


To come up with these results, researchers asked more than 1,000 adults to give their food and flavour preferences.

They were then asked to complete four separate personality questionnaires, which measured their levels of aggression, Machiavellianism, emotional stability and tendency towards ‘everyday sadism’.

This involved rating on a scale how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “When making fun of someone, it is especially amusing if they realise what I'm doing” and “I enjoy tormenting people”.

Somewhat worryingly, people who enjoy black coffee tend to be far more likely to display “malevolent personality traits”.

And it’s not just espresso addicts that fall under this umbrella: this is also true of folks who enjoy gin and tonics, radishes, dark chocolate, celery and citrus fruits.

It’s not the first experiment that’s proven a correlation between taste and personality: in 2011, researchers revealed that people who enjoy all things sweet tend to be more agreeable, friendly and compassionate than those who don’t.

“Our results suggest there is a robust link between sweet tastes and pro-social behavior,” study researcher Michael D. Robinson, of North Dakota State University, said at the time.

“Such findings reveal that metaphors can lead to unique and provocative predictions about people’s behaviours and personality traits.”

All in all, it seems as if we really are what we eat (and drink) – although it’s worth remembering that being a psychopath ain’t all bad.

Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton has found that their bold temperaments makes psychopaths more likely to be intelligent, assertive, cool under pressure, and far less likely to procrastinate – which naturally makes them strong leaders.

That’s certainly given us food for thought. We’re off to nibble on a chocolate bar, if you need us…

Images: iStock


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.