If there’s a food or drink out there you really want to like, don’t give up on it. As humans, we know what tastes we like, but we are also very capable of change.
Picture: Agustin Ruiz/Flickr
You might be wandering why you’d even try to like something you’ve already decided you hate, and that’s fair. Maybe for some there’s a spicy dish that their loved one or family loves and they wish they could get behind it too. Perhaps all of your friends drink specialty beers and you wish you could join the conversation. Or maybe you can’t stand the taste of black coffee, but you know that all the cream and sugar you add needs to go. Whatever your reason, you can change if you want to.
Paul Rozin, a cultural psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied human attitude toward food for years. In an interview with NPR, Rozin explains that it’s common for people to hate something at first, but come around to it later on. Kids don’t normally enjoy chilli peppers the first time they have them, but over time almost anyone can acquire a taste for spicy foods. Rozin calls the process “benign masochism”:
…there’s a lot of foods that we eat that little kids don’t like — beer, etc. But we also like amusement park rides, we like to be scared, we like to cry at movies. This is an example of a very common thing in humans… which is to say that we learn to like things that our body rejects. And it’s benign because it doesn’t hurt us.
It’s like getting to like smoking — when you first smoke, it’s terrible. But you [may] keep going because there’s social pressure. And that pressure gives you enough experience … and somehow with that experience it usually inverts. For some people it inverts pretty quickly.
It’s good to have an open mind when it comes to trying new things, and a good rule is to at least try something twice before writing it off. If you want to learn to love something though, you’ll need to eat or drink and repeat. You’ve no doubt heard someone say that something has an “acquired taste”. This is how you acquire it.