Two experiments, reported in the 24 October issue of Science, suggest that the physical feeling of warmth makes people judge others more favorably and act more generously.

For the first experiment, psychologist Lawrence Williams (ScienceCareers, 2 March 2007) of the University of Colorado, Boulder, recruited 41 undergraduate students. When they walked into the laboratory, they were casually asked to hold a hot or cold cup of coffee for a moment. They were then given a brief fictional description of “Person A” and asked to rate 10 personality traits based on this summary. The students weren’t aware that holding the cup was part of the experiment, but the “effect is quite meaningful and astonishing,” says Williams. Those who held hot cups were more likely to assign positive traits, such as “generous,” “caring,” or “sociable” to Person A than those who held the cold cups.

The second experiment of the study was presented as a product evaluation study, in which 53 participants were asked to hold hot or cold therapeutic pads for a moment and then judge the quality of the product. At the end of the test, as a “reward” for their participation, they could choose either a reward for themselves or a voucher to give to a friend. Among those who handled a hot therapeutic pad, 54% chose the voucher for a friend, but only 25% of those who held the cold pad did.

The findings show that the perception of warmth and coldness has a clear effect on people’s perceptions and social behaviors, Williams says.

Source: ScienceNOW


10 thoughts on “Warm Hands and Hearts

  1. Indeed, tea can taste like that, but that depends on many factors. If the only tea you ever tried is ice tea, I highly encourage you to taste some hot tea. There are many varieties of tea as well and you can choose the taste that you like.

    One of the reasons you didn’t like the taste might be because the tea was too strong. Another reason might be because your diet or something you ate that day affected your perception.

    Try this experiment: brew some tea and pour it into two cups. Add several tea spoons of sugar in one cup and stir it until the sugar is completely dissolved. Wait a couple of minutes to allow the tea to cool a little and drink it. Then try the tea in the other cup. The unsweetened tea will taste absolutely horrible because you tasted the sweet tea first.

    It is somewhat similar to the way drugs affect people. After each use the sensitivity decreases and you need a larger dose to achieve the same effect.

  2. Anybody try the tea served in Vietnamese restaurants? I’ll give props to the one who can identify the kind of tea they serve (hint: it’s a flower tea ๐Ÿ™‚ ). That also happens to be my favorite kind of tea…just above green tea, peppermint, and chamomile. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. That’s right, Kitsune! You know your tea very well! Now then, I want to get my hands on some blue tea that turns pink in presence of lemon juice. Good luck trying to figure what kind of tea I’m referring to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. haha Jasmine tea = โค ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh god… Don’t tell me it is some kind of lichens based tea ๐Ÿ˜› It sounds like a litmus test ๐Ÿ˜›

    Lemon = acid
    Blue = basic
    Pink = acidic

  5. Donโ€™t tell me it is some kind of lichens based tea

    Oh heavens no. The ever colorful tea I’m referring to is mallow petal tea.

    You were on the right track when you mentioned a litmus test. That’s because one of the constituents of the tea acts like a blue litmus paper…it’s called an anthocyanin, a classification of antioxidants (notice the ‘cyan’ root).

    There’s not too many pictures of mallow tea transitioning from blue to pink at the addition of lemon juice, mainly because not too many people are aware of it…but here’s a site containing a picture of it (you need to scroll all the way down).

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