Ever get the cold shoulder? Turns out it may be the temperature (and not those less-than-stellar jokes) at fault. A study suggests people are less likely to pick up on kindness and generosity when exposed to cold temperatures Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Williams, LE., Bargh, JA. Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO. Science 2008 Oct 24;322(5901):606-7.. So while eye contact and a friendly smile can't hurt, it may be best to wait until the heat’s on to reach out for a handshake.

Playing It Hot and Cold — The Takeaway

In the study, participants held either a cup of hot or iced coffee while evaluating a stranger's personality. The group holding colder brews tended to perceive others as less generous and caring, while those holding the warm cups displayed more trust Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Williams, LE., Bargh, JA. Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO. Science 2008 Oct 24;322(5901):606-7.. But there's more to this link than the heebie-jeebies. The researchers suggest a part of the brain called the insula processes both the body's responses to temperature and feelings of trust Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Williams, LE., Bargh, JA. Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO. Science 2008 Oct 24;322(5901):606-7.. Because of this connection, social experiences might in turn affect our perception of temperature. In a separate study, participants who recounted a socially isolating experience associated them with cooler temperatures, whereas those who recalled warm-and-fuzzy moments remembered significantly warmer temperatures Cold and lonely: does social exclusion literally feel cold? Zhong, CB., Leonardelli, GJ. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Psychological Science 2008 Sep; 19(9): 838-42.. It seems people might simply not be able to help but associate warmth with positive memories and the cold with scarier, shivery moments we'd all love to forget Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Williams, LE., Bargh, JA. Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO. Science 2008 Oct 24;322(5901):606-7..

The Tip

Turn up the heat before making new friends. Studies suggest warmer temperatures make people more trusting.

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