Looking to improve your romantic odds? Get your date a cup of steaming coffee.
That’s the implication of a new study from researchers who wanted to see whether there was any connection between physical and emotional heat.
They found that people who held a cup of hot coffee for 10 to 25 seconds warmed up to a perfect stranger. Holding a cup of iced coffee had the opposite effect.
If you want to make a good impression, a cup of fresh coffee “may bias the situation in your favor.”
The study, published today in the journal Science, is the latest to show how physical properties can unconsciously influence emotional reactions.
In the study, a lab worker asked 41 subjects to hold a cup of warm coffee or iced coffee. They were then asked to rate the personality of a person described as “skillful, industrious, determined, practical and cautious.”
People who held warm coffee gave the stranger an average score of 4.7 on a 7-point scale, warmer than the average score of 4.3 from people who had held iced coffee.
In a second experiment, a lab worker asked 53 participants to evaluate either a heated or a frozen therapeutic pad. After completing that task, the subjects were told they could choose as a reward either a cold drink for themselves or ice cream they could share with someone or vice-versa.
Of those who handled the hot pad, 54 percent chose the gift to share with a friend and 46 percent picked a reward for themselves. Of those who touched the cold pad, 25 percent selected the gift to share, and 75 percent chose the item for themselves.
“Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but can also cause us to be warmer – more generous and trusting – as well,” Bargh said.
Researchers said that the association between temperature and emotional warmth begins in infancy, when the physical warmth of being held is connected to food, safety and love.