Some Like It Hot: Spicy Food Preference by Personality Type
Scientific research has proven that not all people are equally affected by capsaicin (the compound that creates the “heat” in spicy food). It is broadly considered a matter of receptors in our mouths having a varying level of sensitivity. So if a person seems overly sensitive to spicy food, it isn’t because they lack fortitude or mental endurance – they are probably dealing with a much higher level of perceived sensation. Those who are more tolerant of very spicy food are probably not feeling the same heat that can become real pain for others.
Some of us like to take a dip in the scalding chili lake now and then, enjoying the adrenaline and endorphin rush as our mouths become fiery caves of culinary combustion, and some just don’t, preferring to avoid the risk. Everyone has their own definition of “very spicy,” but whether we like to cross that threshold (or even get close to it) is a matter of preference, and often, of personality. So we asked our community if they agreed or disagreed with the statement “You enjoy very spicy food” to learn more. Here are the results:
Not a single personality type disagreed with the statement, all having agreed more than 50%, but there are clearly some differences of opinion. Let’s take a step back by exploring the Roles and Strategies, and have a look at a few of the most adamant types.
65% of Analysts agreed, making them the Role that reported enjoying spicy food most. Diplomats and Explorers were essentially tied, with 62% of both Roles having agreed. Sentinels agreed the least, at 59%. While these numbers again show that a slight majority of surveyed people reported enjoying very spicy food, there isn’t a whole lot of variance when looking at Role groups, so let’s move on and see if an examination of Strategies can spice things up.
Constant Improvement (57% agreeing)
When it comes to enjoying spicy food, Constant Improvers are less enthusiastic than most. They might be less likely to want to risk eating something that exceeds their tolerance level, especially since any unpleasant results could go on for a while. Constant Improvers very much need to prepare in advance, and a potential loss of control is often uncomfortable for them. Adding an unnecessarily unpleasant variable to their day is the last thing these personality types need while enjoying their dinner.
Only 54% of Turbulent Adventurers (ISFP-T) agreed, making them the second-least likely personality type to want to eat habanero fajitas. Turbulent Defenders (ISFJ-T) agreed the least of any personality type (52%). These are still majorities, so we can’t fault them for not being adventurous when it comes to scorching their taste buds, but they are the types most likely to order one-star, “no spice” dishes.
Both of these sensitive, receptive personality types can handle a bit of the unknown, but their Introverted tendencies may lead more of them away from the type of intense experience created by very spicy food. Their Turbulent identities are clearly a factor as well, as Assertive Adventurers and Defenders agreed around 4% more that they enjoy spicy food. They may think to themselves, “Why risk ruining a good thing?”
Confident Individualism and Social Engagement (both 62%)
The Confident Individualism and Social Engagement Strategies show a counterbalancing effect. Introversion trends towards less agreement than Extraversion, but the Assertive trait trends towards more agreement than the Turbulent trait, resulting in both Confident Individualists and Social Engagers reporting a similar likelihood of enjoying spicy foods (62%).
The general sensitivity Introverts tend to have in regards to external sensation comes into play here, as spicy food can be a pretty aggressive onslaught, moderated somewhat by Confident Individualists’ unfazed dispositions. It’s also difficult to know, when trying a spicy dish for the first time, exactly how “hot” it will be, or how one’s mouth will react. Even with
People Mastery (66%)
Extraversion and an Assertive Identity correspond to greater agreement with the statement, and by extension greater enjoyment of spicy food. This is in contrast to Constant Improvers, who agreed 9% less – notable, considering the closeness of all the numbers so far. Here, we are finally biting into a spicier statistical pepper that might reveal more going on than simple upbringing!
Extraverted personality types with Assertive identities are no strangers to risk and would naturally have more enthusiasm for the roller-coaster ride of spicy, pepper-laden dishes. They might also be more open to accidentally eating something over their personal tolerance threshold, viewing it as another exciting adventure.
Assertive Debaters (ENTP-A) topped the charts – 72% agreed that they enjoy very spicy food. This consensus makes sense given their bold natures. This personality type is confident in culinary confrontations, and says “Bring it on!” to just about anything. For them, spicy food is a stimulating challenge for their toughened tongues – and perhaps a way to warm up their mouths for their next argument!
There certainly is a personality component to whether a person enjoys spicy food. Even though we each have unique tolerance levels, some personality types are more likely to derive pleasure from reaching (or even exceeding) that boundary on occasion.
Those types who show no mercy – Debaters (ENTP) (69%), Entrepreneurs (ESTP) (68%), and Commanders (ENTJ) (66%) – show equally little mercy for themselves and their tastebuds. The milder souls among us, like Defenders and Adventurers, likely get all the spice they need just imagining the heat – there’s no sense ruining a perfectly tasty meal!
What about you? What’s your favorite spicy dish, and how hot can you handle it?