Bring On The Hot Sauce! Spicy Food Lovers Predisposed To Be Adrenaline Junkies

Curious if your new love interest is the adventuress type? Well there is one easy way to find the answer: look at what they order from restaurants.

A recent study determined certain risk-taking personality traits are linked to how much a person likes to spice up their diet.

Presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo, the findings suggest people who like spicy food are more likely to have adrenaline-seeking personalities.

Conducted with the help of Nadia Byrnes, a doctoral candidate at Pennsylvania State University, 184 participants were given active components of chili peppers and asked to rate how much they liked a spicy meal as the burn increased in intensity.

Using the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking (AISS), which tests for the personality trait of the sensation-seeking, those who had a high AISS score were considered to be more open to taking risks and having new experiences.

“Theoretically, we know that burn intensity and liking are linear related. The more irritating a compound or food gets, the less people should like it,” she said. “But that’s not always the case.”

Since the objective of eating painfully spicy food is to release endorphins to the brain, the findings almost seem like a no brainer.

“There’s a long-standing hypothesis that risk takers are adrenaline deficient and that they take risks to get that adrenaline and feel better,” Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, told NBC News.

“So they’ll work with bombs or in other high-risk environments and then they’ll feel normal. Similarly, when you eat hot spicy food, it gives you a little bit of pain and therefore enhances your adrenaline level.”

But Byrnes noted that never before has any study shown “a strong predictive relationship between liking of spicy foods and a single personality trait was quite shocking.”

And for Latinos, who grow up being introducing to “picante” foods at a young age, this may mean the eating habits they developed at a young age have made them more  prone to spicing things up in all aspects of life.

“I don’t think we can say that spicy food lovers are always risk takers, since there are always exceptions to the rules,” Byrnes added. “However, it wouldn’t be totally off base to guess that someone who enjoys spicy foods would also be someone who would be inclined to enjoy taking certain risks, like riding roller coasters.”

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