created over 4 years ago | Tagged:
At long last, we have scientific guidance regarding that great question of social lubrication:
Pyschologists report in Science that you’re more likely to think warmly of someone else if you’re holding something warm in your hand like a mug of coffee or tea.
The experimenters, Lawrence Williams of the University of Colorado and John Bargh of Yale, gave cups of either hot or iced coffee to people and asked them to rate someone’s personality based on a packet of information. The ones who held the hot cup rated that individual significantly higher for “warmth” than did the subjects holding the iced coffee.
The researchers suggest that the connection between heat and emotion — indeed, the fact that we call someone a “warm person” or speak of “breaking the ice” — seems to be the result of early associations in childhood. “Maintaining closeness to caretakers during infancy, a period of relative helplessness, is critical for the survival of many animals,” they write, so “a close mental association should develop between the concepts of physical warmth and psychological warmth.”
“Experiences of physical temperature per se affect one’s impressions of and pro-social behavior toward other people, without one’s awareness of such influences,” Dr. Williams said.
“It appears that the effect of physical temperature is not just on how we see others, it affects our own behavior as well,” Dr. Bargh said. “Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but also cause us to be warmer – more generous and trusting – as well.”
Will this news change strategies for business meetings and first dates? Should Starbucks’ stockholders rejoice? Will waiters in search of tips start pushing hot drinks and keep finding excuses to touch you?