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Take the 'hot romance' metaphor literally, study finds Add to ...

Think you're hot for your romantic partner? Feel warm and fuzzy in the company of friends? Studies suggests you should take these metaphors literally.

In the August Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Amsterdam's VU University researchers Hans IJzerman and Gün R. Semin published the results of a series of experiments that found subjects felt physically warmer while in close proximity to people they had an emotional connection with - up by 2°C when the subject was two feet away.



People link abstract concepts like affection to the embodied experience of temperature. Researcher Hans IJzerman


People link abstract concepts like affection to the embodied experience of temperature. Researcher Hans IJzerman

Subjects also felt a cool detachment from strangers, with body temperature dropping in the company of people they didn't know.

"People link abstract concepts like affection to the embodied experience of temperature," explains Mr. Ijzerman.

That could explain why the phrase "warm welcome," the concept of "heartwarming" and even the idea of a hot summer romance have become clichés.

The tendency to associate temperature with feelings is adapted from early childhood. It's beneficial for infants to feel the warmth of their parents - their protectors - and interpret it as trust before they can use more complex tools such as language, Mr. IJerzman says. But temperature remains linked to trust and social relations throughout the course of our lives.

This can also be used as a tactic for manipulation: It's possible to create feelings of affection toward others using changes in ambient temperature, the study found. In various experiments, researchers used hot and cold beverages as well as room temperature to measure the social reactions of subjects to other people,.

Winning the affection of others, it seems, could be as simple as serving hot coffee instead of cold water.

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