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Thread: Spicy Food & Personality

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    Default Spicy Food & Personality

    @woofwoofl might like this

    http://www.popsci.com/science/articl...ur-personality

    When I was a kid, I’d watch in awe as my dad ate dinner. It wasn’t just the heaps of food piled on his plate that impressed me. (The words “portion control” had yet to enter the public lexicon.) What always made me shake my head in disbelief was his curious habit of alternating bites of his meal with bites off a jalapeno pepper. To save time, he’d simply hold the pepper in one hand and his utensil in the other. I should also mention that my heritage is Indian, and that my mom served up traditional spicy dishes on a nightly basis. But it was never spicy enough for Dad.

    I’d always assumed that he’d just burned all the taste buds off his tongue, leaving him desensitized to the pain I felt if a raw pepper came anywhere near mine. But the science of spicy food liking and intake -- there’s a whole body of research dating back at least to the 1980s on this -- shows there’s more to it than just increased tolerance with repeated exposure. Personality, researchers say, is also a factor in whether a person enjoys spicy meals and how often he or she eats them. The question is, how much of a factor?

    Over the past few decades, culinary psychologists and other food researchers have proposed several cultural and biological reasons why we eat spices that may elicit pain, such as early learning, prior exposure, societal norms and physiological differences in taste and oral anatomy. Although desensitization to capsaicin, the plant chemical that gives peppers their burn, is well documented, there’s also evidence that the effect is surprisingly small.

    “This suggests chili liking is not merely a case of increased tolerance with repeated exposure, but rather that there is an affective shift towards a preference for oral burn that is not found in chili dislikers,” write Nadia Byrnes and John Hayes, researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, in a new study on spicy food consumption.

    UPenn researchers have previously linked chili liking to thrill seeking, specifically an affinity for amusement park rides and gambling. Later, SUNY Stony Brook investigators found a relationship between chili liking and sensation seeking when using a more formal measure of personality called Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scale. In both cases, however, the associations were fairly weak, and neither study looked at intake -- how often a person eats spicy foods, versus how much a person likes spice.

    As part of a larger study on how the capsaicin receptor, TRPV1, influences oral sensations, Byrnes and Hayes decided to take another look at the psychology of so-called chili-heads. They used an updated measure of sensation seeking that avoided gender- and age-biased questions, as well as dated references (questions like “I would like to make friends in some of the ‘far-out’ groups like artists or ‘hippies’” were replaced with prompts like “I would have enjoyed being one of the first explorers of an unknown land”). They also introduced a four-point scale for responses, allowing for more nuance than the older yes/no response method.

    Ninety-seven male and female participants ranging in age from 18 to 45 filled out a food-liking questionnaire and rated the intensity of sensations after sampling six stimuli, including capsaicin mixed in water. Later they took an online survey that included personality measures and asked how often they consume foods containing chili peppers.

    Sensation seeking emerged as a much stronger predictor of spicy food liking than in the previous studies, and it also predicted how often a person ate chili-laden meals. The personality trait, however, was not associated with high liking of non-spicy foods, which reduced the possibility that thrill seekers are just crazy about food in general.


    Surprisingly, frequent chili eaters didn’t feel the burn from the capsaicin sample any less than people who ate peppers less often. The study group may not have been large enough to show a desensitization effect, Hayes explains, or there may have been a disconnect between reported frequency of intake and actual dose. Someone who says he eats spicy foods twice a day may still be eating small amounts, for example. “No one knows the capsaicin dose or dosing frequency required in the diet to induce desensitization,” Hayes says.

    Still, the lack of evidence for desensitization in the study boosts the argument for personality as an important factor. “That is, chili-heads like the burn more, not just perceive it less,” Hayes says. He can’t yet say exactly why sensation seekers chase the pain of peppers, but a follow-up study in the works that breaks up the personality trait into two sub scales, intensity seeking and novelty seeking, may help to answer that.

    Ultimately, a combination of factors influences who goes for the mild wings on Super Bowl Sunday and who reaches for hot. “Certainly, prior experience, childhood exposure and learning all play a critical role in liking for spicy foods,” Hayes says, “however, there are also individuals who acquired an entirely [new] set of food preferences as adults once they moved away from home. It seems plausible that personality differences may be a major factor in this sort of exploration and learning.”


    So what about my dad, who grew up on spicy foods? Had he eaten enough jalapenos, serranos and other spicy little beasties over the years to blast his taste buds off the Scoville scale? When I asked him why he used to chomp on a chili alongside his already-spiced meal (a habit that he shed as he aged, by the way), his response surprised me: “A chili is a chili,” he said. “It was always uncomfortable. I think I did it for the excitement.”

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    Isn't spicy food a cultural issue?

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    I always thought the food was made spicy to cover up that it was partially rotten (the meat). Nowadays it's for taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleJim View Post
    Isn't spicy food a cultural issue?
    yeah thats addressed in the article dood.

    (also this public programming does not constitute an endorsement [tm])

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton View Post
    Lol. I used to sneak swigs of Chinese Hot Mustard or Tabasco when I was little just because I liked the sensation.

    Nowadays I tend to dump Sriracha Sauce on food. My tastebuds are desensitized to the hotness, but it still tastes good.
    when i was a kid i used to enjoy grinding the pepper shaker into my mouth. but that was partly just because it got a reaction out of my mom.

    i like spicy food but i'm pretty much just satisfied with jalapenos. i keep a jar of sliced jalapenos in my fridge most of the time so i can mix them in with things.

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    somebodies been thinking about jalepenos for the last 6 hours.

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    Fucking love me some spicy spicy action.

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    Try my cuisine - killer and spicy.

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    I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, compared to most people, but the rest of my family makes me look like a wuss, lol. Growing up, my mom would put Thai Bird's Eye chilis in EVERYTHING she cooked. These are pretty spicy little red and green carrot-shaped chilis. I think around 70,000 on the Scoville scale. I hated them because they overpowered everything. I like heat, but only up to the point where it doesn't detract from the actual flavor of food. On occasion, we would plant habaneros or ghost peppers (which are native to my parent's region of India and, up until recently, was the hottest pepper known to exist) in the vegetable garden, which my parents would incorporate into dishes somehow. Those I would refuse to take more than a tentative nibble of, lol. One time, the capsaicin somehow made it into my eustachian tube and it felt like my ear was burning. Awful. A while back, my brother ate a whole habenero raw... he took a huge bite out of it like an apple. He was in tears for about twenty minutes and it was hilarious and I wish I'd filmed it. So there you have a brief history of my relationship with chili peppers.

    I love Sriracha, though.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashton View Post
    Lol. I used to sneak swigs of Chinese Hot Mustard or Tabasco when I was little just because I liked the sensation.

    Nowadays I tend to dump Sriracha Sauce on food. My tastebuds are desensitized to the hotness, but it still tastes good.
    Sriracha sauce is weak.

    I love spicy food. Haha. I had this super spicy burrito bowl for lunch (burrito sans tortilla). Dumped too much hot sauce on it, notably so. It was painful. But I ate it. Haha. And I have heartburn now. But it was worth it. So delicious.

    I love Thai and Indian the most because you can easily get things spicier. However, I do prefer to not go overboard with spices...because when something is too spicy, it loses some complexity, I find. I usually get things "hot" but not "insanely hot".

    I started out eating spicy things when I was little. I was never one of those kids who only ate mac and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. My family makes semi-weird foods....like a cold salad made of rice/shrimp/curry/red grape/pecan/celery/mayo. It's fantastic. I totally wanna serve it at my wedding...I think it's a cute idea to have family recipes at weddings. Hahaha.
    That's all I know about my future wedding. I don't like planning that stuff.


    Rice curry shrimp grape salad like this ^^^^^ sans lettuce. Lettuce does not belong.

    But...yeah, spicy, flavorful food is where it's at.

    And I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more.


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    I like spicy food in moderation. When I was a little girl I would snack on jar after jar of pepperoncin (mild, I know) because I liked the sensation they gave. I also tend to eat a lot of kimchi and I use sriracha with everything. Spicy, but not insane.

    All of that stuff is nothing compared to what my Indian friend eats... whenever I eat dinner with her and her family I feel like I'm going to pass out, lol. The food is awesome, though. It always amazes me how they just sit there and eat away like its no big deal.
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    I love spicy food. It's partially because I'm Indian and I grew up in a family that likes spicy food, but a large part of it is actually the anticipation of the pain. Feels good.

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    I was gonna say. All Mexicans must be thrill seekers. Kids around here start dousing their fruit in hot sauce as soon as they can chew it seems like.

    Oaxaca recently got an Indian restaurant (run by real Indians!) and the guy can't make the food hot enough. He has to serve chiles with it. haha
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    the reason i found this article is cuz i've been having cravings for spicy food a lot lately and i was googling to see if there were biological reasons for it. i did see something about it making people sweat so a craving for it could mean youre overheated. which would be another aspect of the cultural thing with food in different climates. (but i think the source was io9 or something so grain of salt whatever)

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