ArticlePDF Available
Some like it hot: Testosterone predicts laboratory eating behavior
of spicy food
Laurent Bègue , Véronique Bricout, Jordane Boudesseul, Rébecca Shankland, Aaron A. Duke
University of Grenoble-Alpes, France
HIGHLIGHTS
We analyze the relationship between spicy food eating and endogenous testosterone.
Testosterone is related with the quantity of hot sauce participants consumed.
No correlation was observed between testosterone and a control substance.
abstractarticle info
Article history:
Received 14 July 2014
Received in revised form 18 November 2014
Accepted 19 November 2014
Available online 25 November 2014
Keywords:
Eating behavior
Testosterone
Capsaicin
In the presentstudy, we analyzed the relationship between eating behavior of spicy food andendogenous testos-
terone. Participants included 114 malesbetween the ages of 18 and 44 recruitedfrom the community. Theywere
asked to indicate their preferences regarding spicy food and were then asked to season a sample of mashed
potatoes with pepper sauce and salt (control substance) prior to evaluating the spiciness of the meal. A positive
correlation was observed between endogenous salivary testosterone and the quantity of hot sauce individuals
voluntarily and spontaneously consumed with a meal served as part of a laboratory task. In contrast, signicant
correlations were not observed between testosterone and behavioral preference for salty foods. This study
suggests that behavioral preference for spicy food among men is related to endogenous testosterone levels.
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce
[~ Paul Bloom, How pleasure works, p. 52.]
1. Introduction
Many people throughout the world, particularly males [1,18], like
eating capsaicin-containing foods such as hot peppers, in spite of
capsaicin's ability to elicit discomfort, irritation, and even pain. Sociolo-
gists have pointed out that the ability of spicy food to produce these
aversive physiological reactions has engendered a link between these
foods and masculine personality traits in many cultural contexts
throughout the world [24]. However, it remains unclear as to whether
the link between preferences for spicy foods and these traits is driven
more by physiology or by environment. After reviewing the literature
on the correlates of spicy-food preference, we introduce the present
study involving a test of the hypothesized relationship between spicy
Physiology& Behavior 139 (2015) 375377
Corresponding author. Tel.: +33 4 76 82 73 00; fax: +33 4 76 82 73 01.
E-mail address: Laurent.begue@upmf-grenoble.fr (L. Bègue).
food preference and endogenous testosterone, a hormone that is gener-
ally related to stereotypical masculine preferences and behavior [5].
A wide range of factors, including genetic, physiological, psycholog-
ical and social forces,inuence the liking and consumption of capsaicin-
containing food. From a genetic perspective, the preference for and con-
sumption of spicy food have been shown tobe inuenced by both taste
phenotype [6] and oral anatomy [2]. Moreover, a recent behavioral
genetics research study involving 331 adult Finnish twins found that
shared genetic inuence accounted for 1858% of the variation in pref-
erence for spicy foods [24].
Physiologically, foods such as those containing capsaicin have been
found to inuence metabolism or homeostasis, sometimes resulting in
clinically important effects on animal gastrointestinal, cardiovascular
and respiratory systems [7,19]. Human studies have demonstrated
that red pepper consumption decreases appetite while itincreases sati-
ety [26], as well as energy expenditure [28], which is thought to be me-
diated by increased activity of sympathetic nervous system by capsaicin
[25].
Individual experience also inuences the preference for spicy foods.
Rozin and Schiller provided the rst systematic study showing that
preference for the orally irritating qualities of capsaicin can be learned
through repeated exposure ([24];seealso[16]). Another study conrmed
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.11.061
0031-9384/© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/phb
that the more one is exposed to spicy food, the more favorable the
evaluation this latter study specically demonstrated that attenuation
of sensory response to capsaicin exposure can occur within a few minutes
following a single application [11].Ithasalsobeenshownthatrepeated
tasting of spicy solutions over a 2-week period can lead to reduced ratings
of burn intensity and increased liking of the burning-sensation associated
with capsaicin [22].
Research studies show that gender and personality represent an im-
portant factor related to spicy food consumption [1,17].Preferencefor
spicy foods has been linked to higher levels of trait anger [13] and, as
mentioned above, in some cultural contexts, the consumption of chili
pepper is related to strength, daring and masculine personality traits
[21]. As outlined by Byrnes and Hayes [4], among American college
students, eating hot peppers is sometimes a thrill-seeking activity that
involves a strong social component. There is a signicant and positive
correlation between high sensation seeking and preference for spicy
foods [4,14,23]. One study suggested that individuals with high levels
of extroversion prefer spicy foods when given the option to choose a
selection from a cookbook [27]. Liking of spicy food is also related to
responsivity to rewards such as money, sex, and social status [4],
which is consistent with historical reports indicating that eating spicy
foods served as a symbol of high social status [30]. Finally, people
depicted as preferring spicy foods are sometimes perceived as being
more irritable than those with a stated preference for sour, sweet, or bit-
ter foods [14].
Dietary intake has been hypothesized as being associated with
hormonally related behaviors including those inuenced by testos-
terone. This hormone has been consistently associated with many
of the factors related to capsaicin preference including social domi-
nance and aggression [5,18,31] and novelty and sensation seeking [9,
32,33], in addition to daring behavior [5]. Conversely, low testosterone
levels have been associated with lethargic or depressive mood [29]
and other behaviors inconsistent with the behavioral correlates of
capsaicin intake.
2. Current study
In light of the available literature, we hypothesized that salivary
testosterone would be positively associated with (a) self-reported pref-
erence for spicy food, (b) the quantity of hot sauce individuals would
voluntarily and spontaneously eat with a meal served in a laboratory
setting, and (c) the evaluation of the spiciness of their meal after they
had tasted it. Regarding this last hypothesis, we believed that the eval-
uation of the meal's spiciness would logically be linked to the quantity
of hot sauce participants chose to consume. Such effects would not be
expected in a protocol where participants were not given the choice
regarding the quantity of hot sauce administered. By contrast, we did
not expect any correlation between testosterone and a control sub-
stance (salt) for these three variables.
3. Method
3.1. Participants and procedure
The participants were 114 males aged between 18 and 44 (M=
29.31, SD = 6.6) from the mid-size city of Grenoble (pop. 340,000)
and the surrounding communities. Participants had a diverse range
of occupational and educational levels. An advertisementwas published
in the main regional newspaper indicating that a food-tasting session
was being organized by a food research company looking for male par-
ticipantsbetween the ages of 18 and 45 years old. The participants were
told that they were being recruited for a sensory analysis of food that
was ostensibly going to be commercialized in the future and were
asked to abstain from food and drink (except water) for a period of
3 h prior to theirscheduled appointment. On the day ofthe session, par-
ticipants were greeted at a front desk by a 25-year-old host and were
tested between 9 AM and 6 PM. Prior to starting the tasting activity,
participants were asked to rate on a 4-point Likert type scale (1 =
not at all,4=yes, denitely)howmuchtheylikedspicyandsalty
foods.
As a part of another experiment, participants interacted with a con-
federate before the tasting session. A fewminutes later, each participant
was then presented with a plate of approximatively 150 g of mashed
potatoes and was given 50 doses (1.5 ml) of Tabasco® sauce in plastic
capsules and 80 sachets each containing 2 g of salt. Information regard-
ing the correspondence between amount of salt and of hot sauce doses
and their sensory effects was given across six levels labeled 16, e.g., 1
salt dose = salted, 6 salt doses and more = excessive burning sensation
and 1 Tabascodose = spicy, 6 Tabasco doses= risks of temporary extinc-
tion of the sense of taste, risks of vomiting. Although the descriptions
stopped at level 6, there was no limit in the quantity the participants
could choose. Finally, participants were asked to rate on a 5-point Likert
scale (1 = not at all,5=yes, denitely) if they considered the meal they
just ate to be spicy and/or salty. This nal question had several other
ller items (e.g., oury, creamy, granular, and light).
3.2. Testosterone saliva measurement
Saliva samples were collected using standard methods. We collected
2.5 ml of saliva from each participant using a polypropylene microtu-
bule. Collected samples were frozen at 20 °C and stored until analysis.
Salivary levels of testosterone were assayed in duplicate by using a
radioimmunological method with a sensitivity of 15 pg, accuracy of
10.5%, and intra-assay reproducibility of 6.1% [15]. All hormone samples
were tested in the same series to avoid any variations between tests.
Salivary measures quantify bioactive or free testosterone concentration
and research suggests that salivary testosterone levels in men are highly
correlated with both serum free and total testosterone levels in males
[10]. In our sample, mean salivary testosterone concentration was
90.24 pg/ml (SD = 46.06), which is typical of the observations in
previous research. All values were log-transformed because the raw
hormone measures were positively skewed [5] (the results with or
without log transformation were equivalent). Preliminary analysis
showed that testosterone was not related with time of day (r=.08,
p= .38).
4. Results
Consistent with hypotheses, salivary testosterone was related to the
number of spicy doses participants spontaneously placed in their meals
(r= .294, p= .002) and their evaluation of the spiciness of the meal
after consumption (r=.28,p= .003). The correlation between a pref-
erence for spicy foods (measured before the food task) and testosterone
was marginally signicant (r= .15, p= .11). Age was unrelated to the
concentration of salivary testosterone (r=.11, p=.21), but was
related to the number of spicy doses selected (r=.19,p=.03)and
marginally related to evaluation of the meal's spiciness after consump-
tion (r= .16, p= .08) as well as a general preference for spicy foods
(r= .18, p= .04). When we controlled forage by calculating partial cor-
relations, signicant associations remained between testosterone and
the number of spicy doses participants spontaneously placed in their
meals (r= .32, p= .001), evaluation of the meal's spiciness after con-
sumption (r=.30,p= .001), and preference for spicy foods (r= .19,
p= .04).
The correlation between testosterone and the control substance
(salt) was not statistically signicantfor any of the measures.Testoster-
one was not related to preference for salty foods (r= .06, p= .49), the
quantity of salt doses participants elected to place in their meals (r=
.01, p= .86), or their evaluation of the saltiness of their meals after
they seasoned them (r= .12, p= .21).
376 L. Bègue et al. / Physiology& Behavior 139 (2015) 375377
5. Discussion
This study demonstrated a positive correlationbetween endogenous
salivary testosterone and the quantity of hot sauce male participants
voluntarily and spontaneously consumed with a meal served in a labo-
ratory. Additionally, testosterone levels correlated with participants'
perceptions of the spiciness of their meal after a tasting task. There
was no correlation between testosterone and a preference for or the
use of a control substance (salt).
To our knowledge, this is the rst study in which a behavioral
preference for spicy food has been linked to endogenous testosterone
in a laboratory setting. The juxtaposition of using highly accurate labo-
ratory measurement with a diverse community sample of male partici-
pants ensures adequate levels of both internaland external validity. This
study provides new insights into the biology of food preference by
expanding our understanding of the link between hormonal processes
and food intake.
In spite of these strengths, there are many notable limitations. Fore-
most, the underlying cause of the use of spice by individuals with high
testosterone levels should be further analyzed, as it may be the product
of learned or innate preferences. Moreover, the correlational nature of
this research precludes causal inferences regarding the role of testoster-
one and behavioral preferences for spicy foods. For example, it may be
the case that consuming spicy foods produces elevated levels of testos-
terone. In a study published in 2013, Ilhan and Erdost showed that the
serum testosterone levels were increased during the pubertal and
adult periods of rats fed on a diet containing capsaicin. These authors
demonstrated that when a low dose of capsaicin was added to the diet
of rats during the developing period, serum testosterone levels and
spermatogenic cell activity increased, especially in the adult group.
While these results should be observed among humans to be general-
ized, they indicate that capsaicin can affect the release of testosterone
directly or indirectly. Future administration studies will be necessary
to evaluate the causal relationship between elevated testosterone and
preference for spicy foods. Finally, we cannot exclude that the color of
the spicy doses we used in this study may have contributed to the
participant's choice. As a recent study showed, individuals who chose
red in a lab-based experimentas a symbol color to represent themselves
had higher testosterone levels and rated their color as having higher
levels of certain characteristics, such as dominance and aggression,
than did those participants who chose blue [8]. The method that was
used in the present study toevaluate preference for spicy food in a sin-
gle presentation could also be completed by multiple presentations or
other methodologies (see [12,20]). In conclusion, this study showed
that food preference was linked to physiological factors and indicated
that salivary testosterone represents an individual difference variable re-
lated to the behavioral preference for spicy food in a laboratory setting.
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... A relationship between behavioral preferences for spicy foods among men and endogenous T levels has been suggested (Bègue et al., 2015). Bègue et al. brought this matter into question reporting a positive correlation between endogenous salivary T and the amount of hot sauce consumed per meal (Bègue et al., 2015). ...
... A relationship between behavioral preferences for spicy foods among men and endogenous T levels has been suggested (Bègue et al., 2015). Bègue et al. brought this matter into question reporting a positive correlation between endogenous salivary T and the amount of hot sauce consumed per meal (Bègue et al., 2015). Across chili peppers (Capsicum annuum L., Solanaceae), capsaicin is an appealing compound for the modulation of T levels. ...
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... Interestingly though, in cultures where chili is less frequently consumed, a high tolerance for spiciness is associated with masculinity and masculine traits (Byrnes & Hayes, 2015;Rozin & Schiller, 1980;Spence, 2018a). This effect appears to be supported by physiological evidence: recently it was demonstrated that endogenous salivary testosterone levels were positively associated with the amount of hot sauce added to food in the laboratory; by contrast, the correlation was not observed for salt (Bègue, Bricout, Boudesseul, Shankland, & Duke, 2015). Additionally, women appear to be more sensitive to trigeminal stimulation than men, with lower thresholds and higher reported pain (Byrnes & Hayes, 2015;Carstens et al., 2002;Fillingim, King, Ribeiro-Dasilva, Rahim-Williams, & Riley III, 2009;Fillingim & Ness, 2000;Lundström, Frasnelli, Larsson, & Hummel, 2005;Olofsson & Nordin, 2004;Soetanto, Chung, & Wong, 2004). ...
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Obesity and obesity‐related illness are an increasingly prevalent problem globally, especially in Western society. One of the largest contributing factors to the obesity pandemic is the modern food environment and food culture. It is necessary to identify and develop strategies to increase the sensory appeal of healthy food and beverage options in order to provide healthy options to consumers without sacrificing the fundamental sensory enjoyment of eating. Since flavor is the largest driver of food intake and choice, it follows that flavor ought to be part of the solution. This paper reviews the potential of chili pepper or capsaicin (the pungent component of chili pepper) as a healthy eating strategy, by increasing energy expenditure, decreasing intake, decreasing eating rate, and enhancing flavor and satisfaction. Furthermore, we suggest a holistic chemesthetic approach to weight management, by using the sensory impact of trigeminal stimulation (spiciness or heat) in foods, rather than medicinally, in order to cross‐modally enhance tastes and odors, increase perceived complexity and overall flavor, increase sensory satisfaction, and decrease salt and caloric intake. Future research directions are discussed. It is necessary to provide strategies, such as trigeminal stimulation, global culinary practices, and flavor complexity, to consumers to maintain sensory satisfaction derived from healthier foods and beverages. Healthy does not have to equate to flavorless or unappealing, although it is commonly believed that unhealthy = tasty in the United States. Food can be both healthy and flavorful if we harness our collective sensory and culinary knowledge to generate a satisfying sensory experience. Incorporation of trigeminal stimulation, the third dimension of flavor in addition to taste and aroma, such as capsaicin or hot pepper, is an excellent example of drawing from global cuisines, increasing flavor complexity, and increasing overall flavor impression, in order to boost the sensory appeal, nutrition content, and nutrient absorption of healthy foods and to promote healthier eating.
... In fact, in some cultural contexts, such as that found in North America, the consumption of chilli is linked to a range of male personality traits (Rozin & Schiller, 1980). Relevant here, Bègue, Bricout, Boudesseul, Shankland, and Duke (2015) have demonstrated (in the laboratory) that the consumption of spicy food is predicted by levels of endogenous salivary testosterone (though see Granger et al., 2004). The 114 males who took part in this study were offered a 150 g portion of mashed potato together with numerous sachets of Tabasco sauce (a popular peppery sauce/condiment) and salt. ...
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In this review, I highlight what is currently known about the sensory, psychological, and physical/nutritional, differences between men and women in terms of their sensory-discriminative and hedonic responses to multisensory tasting experiences. However, despite the evidence for there being numerous individual differences in tasting, few neatly support the claim that men and women live in different worlds of taste. Perhaps the only situation in which consumed products directed specifically at men and women would appear to succeed is when they are advertised as providing some sort of nutritional benefit to the end user.
Chapter
This chapter discusses important bioactive compounds of ingredients that are commonly found in the Eastern diet that may affect the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED). These compounds include ginsenosides found in Panax ginseng, curcumin derivatives found in curry powder, capsaicin found in chilies, and folate abundant in dark leafy green vegetables. Proposed mechanisms of action of these compounds on reducing the risk of ED include increased nitric oxide bioavailability and plasma serotonin levels.
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In China, the rate of spicy food consumption is rising, and chili pepper is among the most popular spicy foods consumed nationwide. Therefore, investigation into spicy food craving is of public health interest and can also provide better insights into the mechanisms that underlie food cravings more generally. This exploratory study aimed to determine neural circuits underlying spicy food craving by comparing brain response to the cues of foods containing chili peppers in extreme cravers and non-cravers defined by scores on the Spicy Food Craving Questionnaire. A group of extreme cravers (n = 25) and a group of age- and sex-matched non-cravers (n = 26) participated in an fMRI event-related cue-reactivity paradigm, during which pictures of foods with visible chili peppers and pictures of foods with no chili peppers were presented. Results showed that extreme spicy food cravers exhibited increased activation in bilateral insula, left putamen, left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, right inferior parietal lobule, right lingual gyrus, bilateral cuneus, left precuneus, left fusiform gyrus, and right precentral gyrus compared to non-cravers when exposed to the cues of foods containing chili versus foods without chili. While we did not observe the differential activation of orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala of this contrast in extreme cravers compared to non-cravers. Changes in beta values within the right insula, left putamen, left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and left precuneus were positively associated with subjective spicy food craving during the scan among extreme cravers. In addition, changes in beta values within right inferior parietal lobule was significantly correlated with the frequency of spicy food intake among extreme cravers. These results align with prior work suggesting that the dorsal striatum, the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula underlie food craving.
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Objective Chronic testosterone blood concentrations associate with food intake (FI), but acute effects of testosterone on appetite and effect of protein and glucose consumption on testosterone response has had little examination. Methods In a randomized, crossover study, twenty‐three adolescent (12‐18 y old) males were given beverages containing either: 1) whey protein (1g/kg bodyweight), 2) glucose (1g/kg bodyweight) or 3) a calorie‐free control (C). Plasma testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), GLP‐1 (active), ghrelin (acylated), glucose, insulin and subjective appetite were measured prior (0) and at 20, 35 and 65 minutes after the consumption of the beverage. FI at an ad libitum pizza meal was assessed at 85 min. Results Testosterone decreased acutely to 20 min after both protein and glucose with the decrease continuing after protein but not glucose to 65 minutes (p = 0.0382). LH was also decreased by both protein and glucose but glucose had no effect at 20 min in contrast to protein (p<0.001). Plasma testosterone concentration correlated positively with LH (r = 0.58762, p < 0.0001) and negatively with GLP‐1(r = ‐0.50656, p = 0.0003). No associations with appetite, ghrelin or glycaemic markers were found. Food intake was not affected by treatments. Conclusion Protein or glucose ingestion results in acute decreases in both plasma testosterone and LH in adolescent males. The physiological significance of this response remains to be determined as no support for testosterone's role in acute regulation of food intake was found. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The effects of capsaicin, as a pungent principle element of red hot pepper on the testes of mice. Capsaicin was injected subcutaneously at a dose of 1 mg/kg body weight every day for a week to 21, 35, and 50-d-old mice. At the end of the 35th, 50th, and 75th d of age, the animals were sacrificed using ether anaesthesia. The mean weight of the body and testes of all mice treated with capsaicin was less than that of the untreated ones. Capsaicin receptor (VR1) immunoreactivity decreased significantly in the testes of 50- and 75-d-old mice in the experimental group in comparison with the untreated mice. The decrease in blood testosterone levels was statistically significant in the 50-d-old experimental mice compared with the control group. There were no significant differences between the blood LH levels of both groups. The results obtained indicated that VR1 immunoreactivity was observed in the cytoplasm of the Leydig cells. Capsaicin treatment caused a remarkable reduction in the VR1 immunoreactivity in the testes of the experiment group of mice.
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Drawing upon the theories of conceptual metaphors and embodiment, in the present study we systematically examined the metaphorical link between spicy tastes and anger. In terms of personality, the results showed that participants presumed strangers who liked spicy foods (e.g., chili peppers) were more easily angered (Experiment 1). In addition, we found that people who are higher in trait anger are more likely to have a spicy food preference (Experiment 2). The findings support a metaphorical mapping between taste and personality processes.
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The present study investigated potential sex differences in preferences for spicy, hot or unusual foods and in food aversions or neophobia. This study also reexamined the issue of a gender difference in preference for sweet foods. Questionnaires concerning past and current food use and preferences as well as food and condiment use in one actual meal were completed by 148 people between 17 and 32 years of age. Their responses clearly support the prediction that men tend to have a stronger preference than women for spicy, hot foods. The results also support the prediction that men are more likely than women to seek unusual and new foods. Both sexes showed the same degree of preference for condiment use.
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Capsaicin (CAP), a pungent principle of hot red pepper, enhances energy metabolism in rats fed a high fat diet. In this study, the site of action of CAP in rats was investigated in vivo with the serum glucose level as an index of energy metabolism. Administration of CAP (4 mg/kg, ip) caused a significant increase in the serum glucose level. Treatment with hexamethonium bromide (5 mg/kg, ip) and atropine sulfate (1 mg/kg, ip) did not affect the serum glucose response to CAP. Rats treated with 6-hydroxydopamine hydrobromide (30 mg/kg, ip) or reserpinie (5 mg/kg/day for 5 days) also responded to CAP. Adrenodemedullation, however, completely prevented the response to CAP, and injection of epinephrine into the adrenodemedullated rats significantly increased the serum glucose level. These results suggest that the CAP-induced enhancement of the energy metabolism in rats occurs via the secretion of catecholamine from the adrenal medulla. © 1987, Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry. All rights reserved.
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Preferred levels of capsaicin were determined by a method of adjustment and acceptability scaling in two groups, American descendants and Mexicans living in the United States in two food systems. Four chicken stock and four rice samples with different concentrations of capsaicin (0, 4, 8, and 16 ppm) rated for degree of liking. Groups of subjects with monotonically increasing, monotonically decreasing and peaked functions of liking across the concentrations were observed in both ethnic groups. Chicken stock and rice samples were also adjusted by each panelist to their preferred level of hotness. In the first study this was accomplished by mixing with a concentrated version of the food item. In the second study adjustment was made by adding a concentrated solution of capsaicin to the food base, much like adding a hot sauce to food. Adjustment and scaling methods agreed in that a higher concentration was preferred in the rice sample as opposed to the concentration in soup. Estimated optima from adjustment and scaling were positively correlated in both studies. However, adjustment yielded lower estimated optima than scaling. Reliability estimates, based on correlation across replicates, were similar for the two methods. In the first experiment (mixing with a concentrated food), reliability for soup and rice adjustment gave r-values of +0.77 and +0.52, respectively. In the second study (adjustment by a concentrated ‘sauce’), r-values were +0.82 for soup and +0.89 for rice. The adjustment method provides a reliable and flexible technique for determining preferred heat levels in food systems.
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We have discarded the old tongue map (sweet on the tip, etc.) for study of the interactions among taste nerves. Taste is mediated by the chorda tympani (anterior) and the glossopharyngeal (posterior) nerves. Unilateral anesthesia of the chorda tympani intensified some taste sensations from the area innervated by the contralateral glossopharyngeal. For some subjects, even with no stimulation, a phantom taste sensation appeared in the area innervated by the contralateral glossopharyngeal nerve. Thus when one taste nerve is damaged another compensates; however, the cost may be a taste phantom.Work on genetic variation in taste has identified supertasters of PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) who are unusually sensitive to bitters and sweets as well as the burn from chili pepper (active ingredient capsaicin). Supertasters appear to have more tastebuds and since tastebuds have trigeminal neurons (mediating pain) associated with them, there is an association between perception of taste and irritation.
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A number of factors likely affect the liking of capsaicin-containing foods such as social influences, repeated exposure to capsaicin, physiological differences in chemosensation, and personality. For example, it is well known that repeated exposure to capsaicin and chilies can result in chronic desensitization. Here, we explore the relationship between multiple personality variables - body awareness/consciousness, sensation seeking, and sensitivity to punishment, and sensitivity to reward - and the liking and consumption of capsaicin-containing foods. As expected, a strong relationship was found between liking of spicy foods and frequency of chili consumption. However, no association was observed between frequency of chili consumption and the perceived burn/sting of sampled capsaicin. Nor was there any association between perceived burn/sting of capsaicin and any of the personality measures. Private Body Consciousness did not relate to any of the measures used in the current study. Sensation Seeking showed positive correlations with the liking of spicy foods, but not non-spicy control foods. Sensitivity to Punishment showed no relation with frequency of chili consumption, and nonsignificant negative trends with liking of spicy foods. Conversely, Sensitivity to Reward was weakly though significantly correlated with the liking of a spicy meal, and similar nonsignificant trends were seen for other spicy foods. Frequency of chili consumption was positively associated with Sensation Seeking and Sensitivity to Reward. Present data indicate individuals who enjoy spicy foods exhibit higher Sensation Seeking and Sensitivity to Reward traits. Rather than merely showing reduced response to the irritating qualities of capsaicin as might be expected under the chronic desensitization hypothesis, these findings support the hypothesis that personality differences may drive differences in spicy food liking and intake.
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In this book, the author provides an overview of the state of knowledge about testosterone and its impact on human psychology, from prehistory to the present. Drawing upon original studies conducted with more than 8,000 men, women, and children, as well as the world literature on the subject, he interweaves intimate case histories with first-hand scientific research to explore testosterone's role in virtually every aspect of human mind and destiny. He describes how it affects everything from language ability, cognition, and spatial orientation, to the occupations people enter, and what kind of lovers, husbands, wives, and parents people become. The author explains how testosterone accounts for some of the differences in the ways that average men and women think and communicate. Finally, the author shares the latest findings about the connections between testosterone and criminal behavior, altruism, and aggression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)