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Freshly Baked Science

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The Emotional Warmth of Hot Drinks

24th December 2018

Hot drinks are a must in the winter (check out our favourite hot drinks here) but drinking them doesn’t just help you feel physically warm. Researchers have found that warm drinks can actually make you feel emotionally warm. Emotional warmth may sound like some kind of hippy phrase, but it helps to influence feelings of trust and compassion toward the people around you.

This was discovered in an experiment where participants were asked to judge a fictitious person’s personality. On the way to the experiment, they bumped into somebody who had asked them to hold their drink for a second. Some participants were given a hot drink to hold, while others were given a cold drink to hold. Those who held the hot drink before the experiment were more likely to judge the fictitious person as having a warm personality, than those who held the cold drink.

There is a reason we describe personalities as warm or cold and this is because these temperatures trigger certain emotions. There is a region in the brain called the insula, this processes physical temperature and interpersonal warmth, which is why the two are linked. So when you feel something warm, it tends to trigger feelings of trust and compassion, whereas feeling something cold can trigger feelings of detachment and indifference.

Drinking a warm drink has a similar effect to holding one, as it warms your insides and produces a similar feeling of warmth and trust. This discovery of the important link between physical and emotional warmth has opened up so many more research possibilities. One example of this is the research into the effects that temperature has on relationships. While this research is still ongoing, it could give us an insight into why we hear much more about summer romances than winter romance…

You could use this information to be super sneaky when trying to get your own way. If you need to ask permission from your parents about something, set up a little scientific experiment and make them a hot cup of tea before you ask them… let us know how you get on!

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