Personality Traits in the Context of Sensory Preference: A Focus on Sweetness



It is well known that people have individual taste preferences. Of the basic tastes, sweetness appears to be regarded universally as pleasant and rewarding, while sour or bitter tastes have traditionally been typified as unpleasant and even avoided (e.g., Steiner 1977). Researching the processes involved in taste preferences have generally focused on a variety of factors such as biology (Mennella et al. 1995), learning (Birch and Marlin 1982), cultural background (Bourdieu 1984), and socioeconomic influences (Drewnowski 2003). The link between personality traits and food preferences date back centuries (Stone and Pangborn 1990; Venkatramaiah and Baby Devaki 1990). Early findings supported the rather intuitive and seemingly plausible association between personality traits and taste preference (e.g., people with a high degree of sensation-seeking behavior preferred the taste of spicy foods – Terasaki and Imada 1988). However, as critiqued by Goldberg and Strycker (2002), these early studies included rather disparate and varied measures of personality, thus precluding comparison of findings; and in contrast to more contemporary publications were rather limited in scope (Goldberg and Strycker 2002). Previous research tended to focus on personality variables and taste preferences in “restricted samples,” such as those with disorders such as obesity (Elfhag and Erlanson-Albertsson 2006), alcoholism (Kampov-Polevoy et al. 1998), and anorexia and bulimia (Drewnowski 1995). However, there still remains a relative lack of data and published studies on this topic, and accordingly the relationship between personality traits and taste preference is only beginning to become established (Saliba et al. 2009).


Personality Trait Trait Anxiety Bitter Taste Sweet Taste Harm Avoidance 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brain, Behaviour & Cognition Research Group, PsychologySheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK

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