Physical warmth and interpersonal outcomes

The Social Media Networks Distortion   I came across an interesting experiment about how physical experiences affect our interactions with others. In 2008 Lawrence E. Williams and John A. Bargh found out in their study Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth that something as simple as the temperature of a coffee can have an influence on us judging the others. This is how their experiment worked: forty-one students have been placed in two groups. Each person was “accidentally” asked to hold a cup of coffee for someone for about half an minute. The people from one group had to hold a hot cup of coffee and the people from the other group had to hold a cold cup of coffee. After that, they were presented to a description of a person and they had to rate that person on different aspects (generous/ungenerous, happy/unhappy and others). The conclusion was that the people who held the hot coffee evaluated the person from the description significantly more positive than the people that held the iced coffee.

   Because there were some limitations of this experiment, in 2015 Wenqi Wei, Jingjing Ma and Lei Wang tried to replicate it in their study The ‘warm’ side of coldness: Cold promotes interpersonal warmth in negative contexts. The conclusions were that people who are exposed to warm physical contacts are more likely to respond positive in positive social contacts, but not in negative social contacts, where the roles reverse (the cold physical contacts might lead to more positive responses in negative social interactions).

   If you read everything until this point, you’re a hero! The conclusion is that the way we feel physically has a big influence on the way we react to everything (my post Instincts and Basic Needs is somehow related to this). When it’s too hot, we might get angry faster. If we just ate, we might be sleepier and so on. I think that before jumping to actions and conclusions, a quick Is this really what I want? question won’t hurt.

   Have you noticed something similar in your life? What’s your opinion about this?

5 thoughts on “Physical warmth and interpersonal outcomes

  1. Yes I have. I’m not really a person unless I have a coffee first. No, just joking. I’m going to say I don’t judge the book by its cover, never, but I pay attention to the way people handle the coffee cup or things like that, I don’t know why.

  2. Oh, if I’m “hangry” (hungry = angry) I’m not the nicest person at all. If I’m tired, I pay less attention to people. If I’m hot, I have less patience… If I’m physically uncomfortable, I’m 76% more likely to be unkind. (Umm, I made that number up). I suppose it’s dealing with all the anxiety and what not all the time, that the physical just takes me over the edge.

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