Warming up

We would all like to be seen as a warm and friendly person. Warmth is the most powerful personality trait in social judgment. People unknowingly rely on feedback from their body when they evaluate whether or not a person is warm and caring. There are certain tricks based on science on embodied cognition that I will share with you. Our mind is not just connected to the body but the body influences the mind and how we see, feel or perceive.

A really clever experiment has shown that people holding a warm drink judged others to be warmer, more generous and caring vs holding a cold drink. Subjects came into the psychology department building thinking that the experiment would start upstairs. They were met by a woman (part of the research team) who welcomed them and took them upstairs to the 4th floor in the lift. Here is the clever part: the woman asked the participant while in the lift to hold her drink (hot vs cold coffee) while she organised her belongings. This only took several seconds but was enough to change the way the participant would mark questionnaires and judge a random person once upstairs in the lab. People holding the warm drink caused them to perceive a target person as having a “warmer” personality. In their second study, participant holding a hot drink were more likely to chose a gift for a friend instead for themselves.

So in summary:

  • Physical temperature affects people’s impressions and behavior of others
  • We use metaphors in our language describing people as warm or cold
  • Hot drinks promote warm feelings
  • Get someone to hold your hot drink to be seen warmer
  • On dates and meetings, order soup not salad


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