How Individuals’ Perception Is Affected by Physical Temperature Essay

Submitted By jessmcloy
Words: 2476
Pages: 10

* * * * * How individuals’ perception is affected by physical temperature. * Jessica Loy * Deakin University * HPS121 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Abstract * 100 participants participated in a study conducted by Deakin University HPS121 students to determine whether participants who held a warm coffee prior to rating a fictitious person on certain personality traits would rate the person higher on warmth related traits, compared to those who held the iced coffee. The study also aimed to determine if participants who had held the warm coffee would not rate the fictitious person significantly higher on the non-warmth related traits compared to those who were in contact with iced coffee. The 100 participants were exposed to either a warm or iced coffee, they then read a personality description of a fictitious person and they were then asked to rate that person an a personality trait likert scale. Results indicated that temperature stimulus did have an affect on participants perception of the fictitious person. Traits that were temperature related were rated higher by participants holding the warm coffee compared to the iced coffee, and there was no significant difference in the non temperature related traits between the two groups. * * * * * * * * * * How individuals’ perception is affected by physical temperature. * Many researchers have been interested in understanding and explaining the impact which physical temperature has on peoples’ judgment. The topic of physical and psychological temperature is of interest because it effects everyone constantly whether he or she is aware of it or not. When there is a change in temperature, there is consequently a change in behaviour. In simple terms, heat causes people to wear less clothing and cold causes people to wear more clothing. Not only does temperature affect people physically, it also has a psychological affect. * Early studies conducted by Asch (1948) explored the different weights of qualities when establishing a perception of a person. It was discovered that the personality traits of warm and cold produce differences of impression. When the personality trait of ‘warm’ is given, the participant’s impression of the anonymous person is distinctively more positive than when presented with the ‘cold’ personality trait. It was found that the warm-cold personality traits had the effect of altering the meanings of the other traits that were presented. For example when the traits warm and popular are presented together, the anonymous person may be perceived as a friendly and down to earth person who loves to socialise. However, when the traits cold and popular are presented together the person may be perceived as being condescending and overpowering. * Attachment studies by Harlow (1993) indicated that a mother is a protector and provider of warmth for infants who are in danger or fearful. The cause and affect relationship between temperature and perception has been explored by researchers, however further research has also shown a link between temperature and social experiences. Harlow found in his experiments that when infant monkeys were exposed to a warm cloth mother and a cold wire mother, the warm cloth surrogate was preferred. The link between psychological and physical warmth is core in Harlow’s studies. Infant monkeys who are exposed to an unknown situation become distressed, their coping mechanism is to attach themselves to their surrogate as a source of comfort and warmth. * The results of Harlow’s experiments were supported by the findings of William’s and Bargh in 2008. It has been established that although humans are often not actively aware, exposure to certain temperatures influences their behaviour and perception of situations (Williams & Bargh, 2008). In the research conducted by