If you want to be perceived as warm and friendly on your next date, bring your date a hot cup of coffee or encourage him or her to order the soup.
Researchers have found that physical warmth can influence our perceptions of another person’s psychological warmth.1 In a very clever study, a research assistant carrying a cup of coffee, a notebook and two textbooks greeted participants and escorted them to the study room. On the elevator ride, the research assistant asked participants to hold the cup of coffee while the research assistant jotted down a few notes. Sounds simple. But, importantly, there was a twist: the participants were assigned to one of two conditions: they either held a cup of hot coffee or a cup of iced coffee.
When they arrived at the lab, participants were asked to read a scenario about another person (i.e., the target) and were then asked to rate the target. Although all the participants received the exact same description of the target, those who held the hot coffee, compared to those who held the iced coffee, rated the target as warmer, friendlier and more trustworthy!
In a second study, participants were asked to evaluate either a hot or cold therapeutic pad (i.e., a heating or cooling pad used to treat injuries). After the evaluation, participants were told they could choose a gift as a thank you for participating in the study. The choices were either a gift for themselves or a gift to give a friend. Believe it or not, participants “primed” with the hot pad were more likely to choose a gift for a friend, whereas those primed with the cold pad choose a gift for themselves.
So even if you don’t care about your date perceiving you as warm and friendly, you might still want to recommend the coffee or the soup – your date may be more likely to pay the bill!
Now you will just have to decide if you should have the cookies or the radishes? See this article for details.
1Williams, L. E., & Bargh, J. A., (2008). Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322, 606-607. doi: 10.1126/science.1162548
Amy Muise - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Amy’s research focuses on sexuality, including the role of sexual motives in maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships, and sexual well-being. She also studies the relational effects of new media, such as how technology influences dating scripts and the experience of jealousy.