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Physical Warmth Translates to the Emotional

This doesn't make intuitive sense, but Colorado University at Boulder Assistant Professor Lawrence E. Williams has found that simply handling a hot cup of coffee can change one's attitude toward a stranger.

People who had held a hot cup of coffee had a more positive impression of a person they read about than those who had held a cold drink.

"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," said Williams. "At a board meeting, for instance, being willing to reach out and touch another human being, to shake their hand, those experiences do matter although we may not always be aware of them. In a restaurant, it's been shown that wait staff who touch customers usually get a better tip. It's a nice gesture, but it also has a warming effect."

Of course, touch also can evoke the oxytocin response. I wonder if heat does, as well?

University of Colorado at Boulder (2008, October 23). Physical And Interpersonal Warmth Linked. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2008/10/081023144059.htm

Williams is a marketing professor, not a psychologist. But it seems that touching someone -- offering physical warmth -- is a good way to make a positive connection.