People who have a preference for eating sweet things tend to have sweeter dispositions and are more likely to help people in need, compared to those who opt for savory foods or nothing at all, researchers from North Dakota State University and Gettysburg College reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in a piece titled “Sweet Taste Preferences and Experiences Predict Pro-Social Inferences, Personalities, and Behaviors”.

Co-author, Brian Meier, PhD, wrote:

“Taste is something we experience every day. Our research examined whether metaphors for taste preferences and experiences can be used to shed light on personality traits and behavior.”

In their study, the researchers found that volunteers who opted for sweet food (a piece of Dove’s chocolate) compared with non-sweet food (a cracker) or no food were more likely to volunteer helping another person in need. The study also revealed that people’s general conception is that people who like sweet food like candy or chocolate cake are also more agreeable or helpful.

Meier comments:

“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.”

Michael D. Robinson, NDSU professor of psychology, added:

“Our results suggest there is a robust 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 study also established that ‘sweet toothed’ people had a higher personality trait in terms of being agreeable and were more likely to volunteer cleaning up their city after a major flood compared with those who did not have a liking for sweet food.

The conclusion is that the study demonstrated that people’s helpfulness or being nice is associated with a preference to sweet food.

Written by Petra Rattue