At cafes around the country last week, suspicious eyes were trained on the coffee station. Why? A game-changing study.
While there's been plenty of advice published over the years on how to tell if someone is a psychopath, those "tests" have always involved annoying activities like "spending hours with another person" or "meeting the individual more than once." A new study compressed that lengthy investigative process into one tell-tale sign to look for:
Psychopaths drink their coffee black.
The study in question came from psychology researchers at Austria's University of Innsbruck who surveyed nearly 1,000 Americans from two distinctly separate groups: students and prison inmates. In addition to testing the respondents for personality traits using a number of questionnaires, the researchers asked them to self-report their taste preferences.
After they crunched the numbers, they found:
The results of both studies confirmed the hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the most robust relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy. Regression analyses confirmed that this association holds when controlling for sweet, sour, and salty taste preferences and that bitter taste preferences are the overall strongest predictor compared to the other taste preferences.
Since black coffee is as bitter as it gets, psychopaths must love their coffee black. So if you spot someone drinking coffee without any sweetener or cream, they're more likely to be psychopaths. And, well, you're going to want to keep an eye that person.
Now, there are plenty of issues with the study. As Gizmodo points out, people lie all the time, particularly about the food they're eating, or even the kinds of foods they enjoy.
Maybe more to the point, as Slate points out, the study never mentioned black coffee at all, but the coffee assumption was made because of the connection to its bitter flavor.
But who are we to let something like the lack of sound scientific evidence and possibly false extrapolation stop us from having a little fun? So, if you have a psychopath in your life, well, try to get rid of them. But if you can't, try to win their favor by making them a fancy dinner including one or all of these ultra-bitter ingredients:
Arugula: A lot of folks looking for a nutritious snack will reach for mixed greens or chopped lettuce. Not the psychopath. They're on the lookout for that green with a little extra punch like these thin, spiky leaves originally cultivated and grown in the Mediterranean region. They're tasty in their own salad, cooked into a pasta sauce, or sprinkled on top of an artisan pizza.
Dill: For the rest of us, dill is an old fashioned cure-all for every malady from insomnia to hiccups to respiratory disorders to cancer. But if you're a psychopath that needs a little extra garnish on everything from tacos to potatoes, here's your green gold.
Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens, perhaps arugula's older, wiser cousin, are a step up on the bitterness scale, as well as a huge leap up in nutritional value. One cup of dandelion greens are chock-full of vitamins A, C, and K. They're also quite easy to forage, if you don't want to spend too much money making dinner for someone who probably won't appreciate your efforts, them being a psychopath and all.
Turmeric: Throw a pinch, a spoonful, or maybe just the whole bag of this ancient Indian spice in whatever you're cooking. It goes great in everything from curries, to the entire range of rice dishes, to a morning smoothie if you want to give your psychopath an extra pick-me-up on their way to work, presumably having something to do with the stock market.
Bitrex: Discovered in 1958 by Scottish pharmaceutical company MacFarlan Smith, Bitrex is the registered brand name of the chemical compound denatonium benzoate. In 1982, it was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the "most bitter substance known to man." As such, it's had a wide range of uses, everything from keeping Danish pigs from cannibalizing each other's tails, to stopping curious children from accidentally ingesting household cleaning products. This might be the one thing the psychopath in your life adds in their coffee.
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