The next time you feel fat, don’t stare at your scale wondering what went wrong.
Instead, take a personality test.
Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology gathered self-reported personality, eating, and food choice data from over a thousand people in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland.
“We found that a person’s personality does, in fact, determine why he or she eats and what he or she eats,” lead author Carmen Keller told New York.
The researchers used the most studied personality inventory, the Big 5.
These traits are considered to remain stable over a lifetime:
• Extroversion, or how much you need contact with other people
• Openness to experience, or how much you desire novelty
• Conscientiousness, or how much you need to follow the rules
• Agreeableness, or how much you need to feel liked
• Neuroticism, or how easily your emotions are affected
Interestingly, these traits showed themselves in different eating behaviours.
Keller and his co-author Michael Siegrist report:
• “Conscientiousness prevented consumption of sweet and savoury foods and of sugar-sweetened soft drinks by promoting restrained eating.”
• “Neurotic … individuals seem to adopt counter-regulatory emotional eating and to eat high-energy, dense sweet and savoury food in particular, presumably to cope with their negative emotions.”
• “The higher sociability of extroverted people, which is basically a health beneficial psychological resource, seems to have health-averse effects.”
It seems neurotic people may have a tendency toward emotional eating, and extroverted people, who are more likely to eat out with friends, may be more likely to have larger portions of unhealthier food.
On the other hand, in the same way that a conscientious person has the discipline to meet deadlines, he has the wherewithal to opt for carrots instead of Cheetos when in need of an afternoon snack.
While we shouldn’t generalize the results of a small population from a small European country to the whole of human society, the study is a breakthrough in the way it connects eating with personality.
If your success as an entrepreneur is largely shaped by your personality, then it’s pretty natural that your eating habits will be, too.
Unfortunately, weight has real ramifications in business. For instance, the Guardian reports that women who are 13 pounds overweight can lose $US9,000 a year in salary.