A hot cuppa helps melt hearts, researchers find

Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:04pm EDT
 
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - It may seem unlikely, but simply clutching a warm cup of coffee can bring on a flood of warm feelings, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a finding that suggests a strong link between physical and emotional warmth.

"Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but also cause us to be warmer -- more generous and trusting -- as well," said John Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale University in Connecticut, whose research appears in the journal Science.

Bargh and Lawrence Williams of University of Colorado at Boulder ran a series of experiments to test the ties between physical temperature and emotional warmth.

They asked people to briefly hold a hot or iced coffee. Then they were given a packet of information about another person and asked to assess his or her personality traits.

Those who had held the warm cup of coffee were far more likely to assign "warmth" as a personality trait than those who held the icy beverage.

In the second study, volunteers held ice packs or therapeutic heating pads as part of a product evaluation study. Then they were told they could receive a gift certificate for a friend or a gift for themselves.

Those who had held the hot pad were more likely to ask for the gift certificate, while those who held the frozen pack tended to keep the gift.

"These very subtle and relatively simple cues are capable of having a meaningful impact on people's behavior," Williams said in a telephone interview.   Continued...

 
<p>Barista Carl Sara of New Zealand makes a latte art during the finals of the World Barista Championship in Tokyo August 2, 2007. It may seem unlikely, but simply clutching a warm cup of coffee can bring on a flood of warm feelings, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a finding that suggests a strong link between physical and emotional warmth. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>