Bitter Much? Actual Psychological Tips For Manipulating Your Mother in Law’s Mood This Thanksgiving

Newsflash: food that tastes crappy makes you feel crappy. That’s right; in honor of tomorrow’s impending gluttony, I give you this press release, hot off the email from the APS journal Psychological Science, that explains why your diet of Brussels Sprouts and wheat grass inspires the type of bad mood known to psychologists worldwide as moral disgust.

Jump to read: Bitter Food = Bitter Guest: Choose Thanksgiving Menu Wisely

It’s that time of year again: turkey, stuffing, and gravy! As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal for family and friends, heed this warning from an upcoming article in Psychological Science: The taste of the food and drinks that you serve your guests may impact their moral judgments of you in more ways than one.

Psychological scientist Kendall J. Eskine and coauthors from the University of New York noted that several studies have linked physical disgust to moral disgust, but no study has explored morality in conjunction with taste. In their experiment, students drank either a sweet (Minute Maid Berry Punch), bitter (Swedish Bitters), or control (water) beverage. The volunteers then rated a variety of moral transgressions and filled out additional information, including their political ideology.

The results showed that taste perception significantly affected the study participants’ moral judgments — physical disgust, induced by a bitter taste elicited feelings of moral disgust. This effect was more pronounced in participants with politically conservative views than in participants with liberal views. Taken together, these findings suggest that embodied gustatory experiences may impact moral processing more than previously thought.

So if you would like to avoid being judged for overindulging (and other mild transgressions) this Thanksgiving, be sure to avoid serving any bitter-tasting food and drink and serve plenty of sweets!

Interesting theory, but doesn’t really explain why I feel like Little Chrissy after eating too much birthday cake this afternoon. Or does it?


  • Marcus

    Trying to coordinate non-bitter foods and menstral cycles for entire group has caused me to cancel thanksgiving and head to the cowboys game.