Something Unusual Happens When You Hold a Hot Cup of Coffee


How often do you drink coffee during important business meetings? New research suggests that holding hot coffee may be a bad idea if you’re trying to win a negotiation.

In a 2008 study by Lawrence Williams of the University of Colorado and John A. Bargh of Yale, researchers asked participants to come up to the lab with them to answer a short questionnaire. During the elevator ride up, the assistant had her hands full and asked the participant to help them hold a cup of coffee. Half the participants held iced-coffee and the other half held hot coffee.

Once they got to the lab, the participant was asked to rate a stranger’s personality. The options included whether they were generous, caring, good-natured, or otherwise warm.

The results revealed that those who held the warm coffee said that the stranger had a warmer personality. This led the researchers to conclude that holding warm objects makes one more comfortable and open around others.

In a separate study done by the same people, they told participants to review a therapeutic pad for a consumer marketing study. The pad was either going to be hot or cold. The participants were then asked to pick between a refreshment for themselves or a gift certificate for a friend as a reward for their participation. 75% of the people who held the cold pad chose the refreshment, while 50% of the people who held the hot pad chose the gift.

Why does this happen you ask? Here’s an excerpt from Business Insider on a possible theory:

According to Tel Aviv University professor Thalma Lobel, this is part of embodied cognition, a growing field within psychology that shows how your mental life is a part of your physical life. She writes about it in her new book “Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence.”

“As children, we first learn the concrete concepts of close or far, smooth or rough, warm or cold,” Lobel says. “On the basis of these concrete concepts we learn more abstract concepts. When we touch something warm, without our being aware of that process, it activates the concept of a warm personality.

So what does this all mean? Basically, they are suggesting that holding warm objects make you more generous, which is not something you want to do when trying to negotiate the best deal for yourself. This might be something good to note the next time you’re negotiating.

H/T: Business Insider

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