It’s Not the Firm Handshake, It’s the WARM Handshake

by Ruth Folger Weiss

Add this to your  “it’s nice to know” file:

Physical warmth impacts on how we view other people and, creates a causal scenario where we then treat the other person in a warm or cold fashion.

To ascertain how temperature affects emotions, Lawrence Williams, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and John A. Bargh, PhD, professor of psychology at Yale University conducted a study on undergraduates.

Students were  casually asked to hold  a tester’s  cup of coffee for a moment prior to entering a room;  half the participants were asked to hold a cup of warm coffee and half were asked to hold a cup of iced coffee.

The students were   subsequently given a portfolio of information  on an unknown person described with words like intelligent, skillful, industrious, practical, and cautious. They were then asked to respond to a questionnaire evaluating the person’s personality. Interestingly, those who had held the warm coffee were much more likely to score the  “person in question”  as warmer than those who had held the iced coffee.

“It appears that the effect of physical temperature is not just on how we see others, it affects our own behavior as well,” Bargh says. “Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but also cause us to be warmer — more generous and trusting .”

In the boardroom and in your social life, never underestimate the importance of  an outreached hand, especially when it’s a warm one!

24. October 2008 by Ruth Folger Weiss
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