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An Ohio Psychologist Finds Meaning in a Hill of Jelly Beans

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When Ronald Reagan reaches for his familiar jar of jelly beans, he’s revealing more than just a sweet tooth—so says Akron, Ohio psychologist Elizabeth Bard, 34. Since the President prefers the white, coconut-flavored jelly beans in his Oval Office stash, he is, Bard claims, typical of those who choose that color—”ambitious, seeking popularity and attempting to display a feeling of authority. He frequently resists outside interference.”

To skeptics, Bard points out that her judgment comes from a systematic study of 101 adults’ jelly bean preferences. Her subjects were offered eight flavors, took a color psychology test and filled out questionnaires. The survey led to 56 separate bean-eater profiles.

Bard’s interest in bean-ology began last year when she and her husband, David, a fireman, were dining at an Akron motel where jelly beans were served with cocktails. Bard recalls, “I noticed that a tall gentleman in glasses wanted only pink and his friend, a short lady, wanted only black. I went to the library and looked into the development of taste.”

Now Bard theorizes that men who like purple jelly beans, for instance, apply “strict standards to their choice of a partner.” Women who lean to green “may be described as ambitious, yet easily offended.”

As the eldest of five children, Bard gave up modeling because “I’m 5’8″, which is too short, and my teeth are crooked.” Later, while working toward her Ph.D. at Akron, she observed psychological testing of infants and wondered how such tests could be applied to animals. The result, a tongue-in-cheek 1980 Doubleday book titled The Cat IQ Test, has sold 27,000 copies. She is selling photocopies of her jelly bean survey for $3.50 during off-duty hours from her job as an Akron school psychologist.

Oh, yes, women who prefer red jelly beans, Bard says, “show great personal charm, are regarded as interesting, easily influence decisions [and] proceed cautiously toward a decision in which personal ambition may be temporarily withheld while comfort and security are obtained.” Guess which Akron school psychologist prefers red jellybeans?