Physical warmth and interpersonal outcomes – Reblog

pointless overthinking food
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   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 – Reblog

  1. Interesting idea…not sure the validity of a study like that, seems like it’d be tough to replicate…but I think it makes sense. If you think about connections with others, real, in person connections are often deeper than email/text connections, in my opinion, and I feel like the reason is the personal contact: a warm hand shake, a hug, a pat on the back…and of course, eye contact plays a role as well.

  2. I would say there is a fairly accurate evaluation if you are to measure behavior between extreme temperature variation. Let me explain. I live in Arizona. it is mostly desert and in the summer months, it gets extremely hot. Triple digits., 120 to 130 degrees. It has been documented that during the summer there is an increase in what we call road rage. tempers flare, people, become impatient, there are acts of extreme violence. There have been incidents of shootings and one getting the shit knocked out of them. I’m no doctor but to the best of my understanding. heat increases body metabolism, causing anxiety, short temper, etc.

    If we go to the other extreme, extreme cold as it is at the pole slows down the body. The colder it is the slower the metabolism is, the more docile one becomes. More agreeable too tired to move. Those are the extremes.

    The best is somewhere in the middle. not too hot and not too cold. Tropical.. .mild 80’s, very little humidity. When have you ever heard of anyone in the topics being angry? Shit, even their music is happy. They don’t have time for anger. They are busy dancing about, eating and drinking and smoking Gunga.

    I could not say proof positive that behavior is completely a result of temperature as there are exceptions in behavior. Its human nature, allowing one or two oddballs to cause one to reevaluate their findings.

  3. I wonder about food in this context, not temperature but sensations. In some ways the body responds similarly to to spicy food as with physical heat. What about alcohol, would cold beer offer a different social response over a shot of whiskey?

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