Friday, February 20, 2009

Hot Cup of Joe in Hand

As the mercury stays low outside, and job seekers try to secure post-graduation employment, recent research suggests a person's first impression may be more influenced by random physical comforts, like holding a hot cup of coffee, than once believed. The study, conducted at Yale, concludes there may be a link between environmental stimuli and behavior and feelings. Specifically, feelings of trust and empathy are linked to physical feelings of warmth.

The scientists recruited college students to participate in what they thought was a personality study. As the students were brought into the lab, they were asked to hold a cup of coffee (either hot or cold). They were then asked to evaluate presumed personality traits based on a neutral description of a fictitious person (industrious, cautious, and determined). The students who held the hot cup perceived the person as "more generous, sociable and good-natured" than those who held the cold cup. A second test group of students was given either a heating pad or cooling pack to hold for "product-testing." At the end of the "test," the students could choose a gift either for themselves or for a friend. The students who held the cold pack were more likely to choose the gift for themselves.

So what is the moral of the story for those seeking to make a positive first-impression? The study stopped short of concluding individuals should hand out warm drinks before an interview, but rather made the observation that perhaps our environment influences our feelings more than we could have imagined. True, but maybe holding onto that hot cup of coffee before a big interview isn't such a bad idea.

The AP story can be found here.

1 comment:

David Hutchinson said...

This is good to know. I think I will rub my hands together vigorously for the 30 seconds leading up to the initial handshake.