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Hot or Cold Coffee Effect on the Use of Warmth-Related Words Report

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Updated: May 13th, 2022

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether feeling physically warm or cold could influence how one could evaluate a fictitious person. The first study question aimed to establish whether or not people who had briefly held a hot coffee drink rate, someone, significantly higher on warmth-related traits than those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink. The final study question aimed to demonstrate whether or not there would be no significant difference in the ratings of non-warmth related traits between those who had briefly held a hot coffee drink and those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink. The study methodology involved conducting an interview with 100 participants, who were randomly placed in two groups (50 participants per group) of hot coffee and cold coffee drinks. Experimenters recruited participants to describe the personality of a fictitious person while holding either a hot coffee drink or a cold coffee drink. The study results indicated that warmth was associated with a high rating of warmth-related traits while there were no significant differences in the rating of non-warmth-related traits among participants. The researcher concluded that physical warmth had effects on the use of warmth-related words, which could enhance interpersonal relationships.

Introduction

The aim of this study was to investigate whether feeling physically warm or cold could influence how one could evaluate a fictitious person. According to Asch, one can look at a person and instantly create character traits (Asch, 2007). However, Asch observed that one could only realize a trait of another within a particular quality, and every trait had its own impression. Different impressions contributed to making a complete impression of an individual.

Zhong and Leonardelli noted that social exclusion led to a literal feeling of coldness (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). In the first experiment, they noted that participants who were subjected to social exclusion recorded lower room temperature relative to participants who had inclusion experiences. In the second experiment, they noted that participants who were socially excluded by directly induced online virtual interaction had a high affinity for warm food and drink relative to participants who were included. As a result, they concluded that social perception entailed both physical and perceptual contents. Hence, the psychology of social perception is critical for understanding social interactions and social exclusion.

An experiment by Williams and Bargh concluded that physical temperatures had significant effects on an individual’s impression and prosocial behaviors toward others, but people were not aware of such influences (Williams & Bargh, 2008). Past studies by John Bowlby noted that early childhood experiences of warmth from their caregivers had significant influences on the child’s normal interpersonal developments of warmth and later behaviors in adulthood (Bowlby, 1969). In addition, Meyer-Lindenberg observed that physiological state sensations like body temperature and trustworthiness for other people supported the study Williams and Bargh (Meyer-Lindenberg, 2008). Thus, concepts of warm and cold relationships have significant influences on interpersonal behaviors and perceptions.

Harlow provided an effective method of measuring neonatal and infant affection responses to surrogate mothers. He noted that such responses were strong and persistent because of the warmth that existed as the monkey preferred a cloth surrogate mother instead of a wire mother (Harlow, 1958). On the same note, Lorenz noted that physical closeness was critical for survival during infancy among animals because of their helpless status (Lorenz, 1966). Critics noted that Asch (2007) did not provide any solid support for his study on warm and cold concepts in determining the impression on people (Williams & Bargh, 2008). However, later studies showed that warm and cold attributes could produce different feelings. For instance, people who had a hot cup of coffee or had a warm bath were associated with feelings associated with warmth like comfort (Niedenthal, Halberstadt & Innes-Ker, 1999).

The first study question aimed to establish whether or not people who had briefly held a hot coffee drink rated someone significantly higher on warmth-related traits than those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink. The final study question aimed to demonstrate whether or not there would be no significant difference in the ratings of non-warmth related traits between those who had briefly held a hot coffee drink and those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink.

The study evaluated participants on their rating of fictitious persons after holding either hot or cold coffee drinks. The researcher filled out questionnaires while they had cold or hot coffee drinks in their hands.

Hypotheses

  • H1: Participants who had briefly held a hot coffee drink rate someone significantly higher on warmth related traits than those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink
  • H2: There would be no significant difference in the ratings of non-warmth related traits between those who had briefly held a hot coffee drink and those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink

Method

Participants

At the start of the trimester at Deakin University Australia, students were experimenters in a psychology course to investigate whether feeling physically warm or cold could influence how one evaluated a fictitious person. Participants were 100 volunteers.

Materials

The study materials were questionnaires, hot coffee drinks, and cold coffee drinks. Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire while describing a fictitious person. While doing this, they held either a hot coffee drink or a cold coffee drink. They rated a fictitious person on different traits, such as generosity, sociability, happiness, popularity, persistence, importance, seriousness, and reliability.

Procedure

All 100 participants were randomly selected and allocated into two groups. The first group consisted of 50 people in a hot coffee condition experiment while the other 50 people participated in a cold coffee experiment. These experimenters recruited a friend or a family member who would be a participant in the experiment. Participants were not aware of the other group. Prior to filling out the questionnaire, experimenters asked participants nonchalantly if they could hold their coffee drinks.

Results

Table 1:Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Generosity

Generous M SD
Hot Coffee 5.08 1.27
Iced Coffee 4.10 1.63

There was a difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Generosity. An independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 1 was significant t(98) = 3.35, p<.05.

Table 2:Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Sociability

Sociable M SD
Hot Coffee 5.18 1.30
Iced Coffee 4.41 1.50

There was a difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Sociability. An independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 2 was significant t(98) = 2.73, p<.05.

Table 3: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Happiness

Happy M SD
Hot Coffee 5.52 1.08
Iced Coffee 4.82 1.21

There was a difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Happiness. An independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 3 was significant t(98) = 3.08, p<.05.

Table 4: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Popularity

Popular M SD
Hot Coffee 5.20 1.45
Iced Coffee 4.59 1.07

There was a difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Popularity. An independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 4 was significant t(98) = 2.66, p<.05.

Table 5: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Persistence

Persistent M SD
Hot Coffee 5.75 1.19
Iced Coffee 6.00 0.95

There was a slight difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Persistence. However an independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 5 was not significant t(98) = -1.11, p>.05.

Table 6: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Importance

Important M SD
Hot Coffee 5.20 1.32
Iced Coffee 4.92 1.52

There was a slight difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Importance. However an independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 6 was not significant t(98) = 1.32, p>.05.

Table 7: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Seriousness

Serious M SD
Hot Coffee 5.30 1.34
Iced Coffee 5.51 1.14

There was a slight difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Seriousness. However an independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 7 was not significant t(98) = -0.82, p>.05.

Table 8: Summary statistics for Hot Coffee and Iced Coffee in regards to Reliability

Reliable M SD
Hot Coffee 6.02 1.19
Iced Coffee 6.18 0.89

There was a slight difference between the Hot Coffee group mean scores and the Iced Coffee group mean scores in regards to Reliability. However, an independent measures t-test showed that the difference between the data in Table 8 was not significant t(98) = -0.74, p>.05.

The results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between the rating of participants who had briefly held a hot coffee drink and those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink. Therefore, we accept the experimental hypothesis (H1). On the second hypothesis, the study results indicated that there were no significant differences in the ratings of non-warmth related traits of those who had briefly held a hot coffee drink and those who had briefly held an iced coffee drink. Therefore, we accept the experimental hypothesis (H2).

Discussion

A study was conducted to investigate whether feeling physically warm or cold could influence how one would evaluate a fictitious person. The result showed that there were statistically significant differences between the ratings of people who had hot coffee drinks and those who had cold coffee drinks. Participants who had hot coffee drinks described fictitious persons with words associated with warmth. This study supports previous studies, which established that physical warmth had impacts on the use of warmth-related words when describing a person (Williams & Bargh, 2008; Harlow, 1958; Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008; Bowlby, 1969).

People tend to analyze and describe their social interactions by the use of metaphors (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). They also tend to attach different meanings to interpersonal circumstances based on the prevailing temperature, which may occur incidentally. This study has shown that holding a hot coffee drink changed the way participants responded or rated other people. In other words, the change in temperature changed the responses of participants. People who had contact with a hot coffee drink subsequently used warm-related terms to describe a fictitious person. Conversely, participants who used cold coffee drinks did not use warm and friendly words when describing fictitious persons.

The study outcomes show support for previous research in the experiment (Williams & Bargh, 2008). Researchers have used such studies to explore “the relationship between physical temperatures and individual personality” (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). This study has similar findings to those conducted by Williams and Bargh (2008). Thus, the study was credible. On the other hand, some scholars have noted that rejection of people leads to the generation of cold feelings (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). From a psychological perspective, such physical experiences normally affect the psychological expectations of individuals (Williams & Bargh, 2008). In this regard, the use of words like cold and warm metaphorically depicts social exclusion and social inclusion respectively. Some studies have demonstrated the use of metaphor has been effective in reflecting the psychological attributes of people (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). One can conclude that the term coldness, when used to refer to social interaction, could reflect an abstract concept of social rejection (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008; Williams, & Bargh, 2008).

This study finding has presented opportunities for further studies, which could explore the interaction between people and their physical environments. It would be interesting to “study whether or not a warm experience from the environment or an object could avert negative feelings, social exclusion, and coldness” (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008). Although the researcher used random sampling for generalization, participants’ interpretation of a fictitious person could have influenced their ratings. This interpretation of participants could have affected the final study outcomes. Most people have associated physical coldness with social exclusion or rejection. On this note, psychologists could explore how changes in favorable temperatures could transform feelings of coldness, loneliness, social exclusion, and rejection among people.

Some studies have linked coldness to depression during winter weather conditions. This is a form of affective disorder, which may affect healthy persons. Studies should determine how physical coldness affects such individuals who experience affective disorders associated with winter seasons. Zhong and Leonardelli concluded that “perhaps cold temperatures in the winter served as a catalyst to the psychological experience of social exclusion” (Zhong and Leonardelli, 2008).

The researcher concluded that physical warmth had effects on the use of warmth-related words. Consuming a warm cup of coffee could be a means of managing and coping with severe weather and social exclusion and rejection. Thus, physical warmth can generate positive and warm feelings among people and enhance interpersonal relationships.

References

Asch, S. E. (2007). Forming Impressions of Personality. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 41(1946), 258-290.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss. London: Hogarth Press.

Harlow, H. (1958). The nature of love. The American Psychologist, 13, 673-685.

Lorenz, K. (1966). On Aggression. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.

Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2008). Trust Me on This. Science, 321(5890), 778-80.

Niedenthal, P.M., Halberstadt, J.B., & Innes-Ker, A.H. (1999). Emotional response categorization. Psychological Review, 106, 337-361.

Williams, L.E., & Bargh, J.A. (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322(5901), 606-607.

Zhong, C-B., and Leonardelli, G. J. (2008). Cold and Lonely: Does Social Exclusion Literally Feel Cold? Association for Psychological Science, 19(9), 838-842.

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