What Your Cravings Say About Your Personality

Whether it's pasta, meats, veggies, or sweets, what you deem to be your favorite foods may reveal some surprising insight into your personality. As humans, we experience the complexities of taste well before we leave the womb. Transferred through amniotic fluid, studies have shown that a baby's liking of a particular food item may increase after birth depending on if they were exposed to that flavor while in utero (via Pediatrics).

So whether we're predisposed to like a certain food or it's simply by coincidence, what do our food preferences say about who we are as people? Publishing their work in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers of a 2021 study aimed to answer this question. In an assessment of over 200 young adult female students, various personality traits were identified in association with certain food preferences as well as specific food dislikes. For example, having an affinity for sodas and fruit juices was linked to traits of agreeableness, while a preference for meat and biscuits correlated with a quality of openness. On the flip side, a dislike of dairy products was found in relation to traits of neuroticism.

But what about more bold flavors like those found in spicy or salty food items? A 2022 analysis published in Current Research in Food Science determined that if you're someone who craves spicy, crunchy, sour, or bitter food items, you're more likely to be a sensation-seeker.

The food preferences of risk-takers versus cautious individuals

This analysis of spicy food lovers backs up previous study findings reviewed at the 2013 annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists, which revealed that those who enjoy spicy food were more willing to engage in risk-taking behavior (via NBC News).

Doctoral candidate at Penn State University's department of food science and fellow researcher Nadia Byrnes further explains their findings, stating via NBC News, "In general, for an individual who is low 'sensation seeking,' as the perceived burning or stinging of a meal increases, their liking will drop much more quickly than someone who is a high 'sensation seeking.'"

Further findings from the 2022 analysis showed that novelty-seekers — or those in search of new experiences — tend to have an affinity for salty foods. But what about those of us who may be more cautious and reserved? The analysis revealed that those prone to anxiety tend to have a narrower palate. Interestingly, however, previous research indicates that anxious individuals may be more likely to reach for citrus fruit. Psychologist Susan Albers explains via MSN, "Those who are more anxious may just be drawn to the refreshing and calming nature of citrus." Similarly, those who enjoy bread and pasta have been found to be more cautious and thoughtful. "These food lovers aren't generally risk takers and usually don't like change," says nutritionist Keith Kantor via MSN.