People who are friendly and happy are often described as warm, but now researchers have found that being physically warm may prompt people to act like it.
"Experiencing physical warmth leads directly to increased feelings of interpersonal warmth and, in turn, to cooperation," Simon Storey and Lance Workman of Bath Spa University, said.
They conducted the study by having 60 students form pairs and complete two games of the Prisoner's Dilemma.
The Prisoner's Dilemma is a game that is often used to research the act of cooperation and trust. In it, two players have the option of defecting against their partner or cooperating with them. When the two cooperate, they receive a modest reward. But if only one partner cooperates, the defecting partner receives a large reward and the cooperator receives nothing. If they both defect, they each receive a small reward.
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In order for a person to get the best reward, they have to defect and their partner has to cooperate.
Researchers put a spin on this technique by having participants hold either a gel-chemical hand warmer or a freezer pack.
They found that those holding the warm pack were more likely to cooperate than those who held a cold pack.
There was previous research indicating that physical warmth promoted interpersonal warmth, but this study examined whether it would affect cooperating.
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A region of the brain, called the insole, is suspected to be the physiological explanation for the link between physical and interpersonal warmth.
"The discovered effect of temperature priming on cooperation also provides indirect support to the theory that there is a common neurological medium for the perception of physical warmth and interpersonal warmth in the brain," Storey and Workman said. "The support is indirect as the experiment did not measure insole activity during the economics trust game, the connection is an assumption based on previous research."