My office is situated among a group of publications known as “the food group.” These folks are editors and graphic designers for publications related to restaurants and food service management. Pretty much every week, someone in the group will bring in cupcakes, candy or donuts. Plus, being in the hospitality industry, they constantly receive boxes of sweet gourmet treats. They always share with me and they always seem to be in a good mood.
Coincidence? Apparently not.
Personally, I never needed a reason to eat a piece of chocolate or a bite of pie or cake. However, a group of researchers from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Gettysburg College have found that people who have a sweet tooth actually have sweeter dispositions than those who enjoy savory treats or no treats at all. In the study, titled, "Sweet Taste Preferences and Experiences Predict Pro-Social Inferences, Personalities and Behaviors,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, volunteers who ate a piece of Dove chocolate were more likely to volunteer to help another person than those who chose a cracker or opted for nothing.
“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,” said study co-author, Brian Meier, Ph.D.
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.”
It would be simplistic to say that chocolate will cure the problems our country and the world face, but it can’t hurt to eat a piece or two of chocolate and be nicer and more helpful to one another.