Personality traits and bitterness perception influence the liking and intake of pale ale style beers

Molly J. Higgins, Alyssa J. Bakke, John E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Bitterness is classically considered undesirable in foods and beverages. Yet, widespread commercial success of beers (like Bitters in the UK or IPAs in the US) indicate bitterness is desirable for some consumers. Here, we tested whether personality traits influence beer liking and intake. Under laboratory conditions, beer consumers (n = 109) rated liking and intensity of 2 pale ales and a lager, and intensity of two bitter solutions (quinine, Tetralone®). Participants also completed intake and personality questionnaires (Sensation Seeking, Sensitivity to Punishment and Reward, and Food Involvement). A liking ratio for each beer was calculated from each participant's liking for that specific beer and their total liking for all beers. Participants were classified as weekly, monthly, or yearly pale ale consumers using intake data. Using intensity ratings, personality measures, and other parameters, hierarchical linear regression was used to predict liking ratios, and logistic regression was used to predict beer intake frequency. A significant interaction between Sensation Seeking and quinine bitterness (p = 0.03) was found for the liking ratio of a pale ale. The interaction revealed liking of the pale ale increased with Sensation Seeking but only if quinine bitterness was also high. Intake models showed increased odds of frequent pale ale intake with greater quinine bitterness and lower liking for lager beer. These data suggest liking and intake of pale ales is positively related to Sensation Seeking and bitter taste perception. Contrary to findings in other bitter foods and beverages, the high bitterness found in pale ales may be desirable for some consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103994
JournalFood Quality and Preference
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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