Herbs and Helpers ®

Herbal Services and Solutions | Herbalist | Supplier | Herbs

   Feb 23

Feeling Cold is Contagious, New Research Finds

According to a new study led by Dr Neil Harrison of the University of Sussex, UK, humans are susceptible to the so-called temperature contagion.

In this research, thirty-six healthy participants watched eight video clips of actors putting their hands in either visibly warm or cold water.

At the same time, the temperature of their own hands was measured.

Their hands were significantly colder when watching the ‘cold’ videos. However, the ‘warm’ videos did not cause a change.

“Volunteers who watched videos of people putting their hands in cold water found their own body temperature drop significantly,” explained Dr Harrison of the University of Sussex’s Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, who is the senior author of the paper published in the journal PLoS ONE.

“We think that this is probably because the warm videos were less potent – the only cues that the water was warm was steam at the beginning of the videos and the pink color of the actor’s hand.”

“There is also some evidence to suggest that people may be more sensitive to others appearing cold than hot.”

He added: “such unconscious physiological changes may help us empathize with one another and live in communities.”

“Mimicking another person is believed to help us create an internal model of their physiological state which we can use to better understand their motivations and how they are feeling.”

“Humans are profoundly social creatures and much of humans’ success results from our ability to work together in complex communities – this would be hard to do if we were not able to rapidly empathize with each other and predict one another’s thoughts, feelings and motivations.”

Cooper EA et al. 2014. You Turn Me Cold: Evidence for Temperature Contagion. PLoS ONE 9 (12): e116126; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116126

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.