What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Why A Good Friend Has the Same Effect As a Warm Fire

August 26, 2010, 10:55 AM
Campfire_use

"Vision," Stanford's Bill Newsome likes to say, "does not happen in the eye. It happens in the brain." As I mentioned in my last post, this is a general theme in our understanding of the mind and brain: We don't passively record "reality" and then process our perceptions. Rather, we actively create what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel. A nice new example is this experiment, which found that people feel warmer when standing near a loved one, and colder when they're reminded that someone nearby doesn't share their interests.

A growing body of research suggests that physical and psychological perceptions share common pathways. Experiments have already shown, for example, that physically warming up a room causes people in it to feel their relationships are closer. The question Hans Ijzerman and his colleagues took up in this paper was: Would this effect work in reverse? Instead of warming up social perceptions by heating the room, could you make people feel the room was toasty just by putting a loved one nearby?

Answer: Yes. Their paper, recently published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, compared temperature perceptions. On average, the people who stood close to a loved one guessed that the temperature in the lab was 2 degrees (Celsius) warmer than did those who weren't experiencing that social and emotional connection. (Unfortunately, the work is behind an outrageously expensive paywall and the abstract is incomplete on ScienceDirect's greedy website. So I've had to deduce some details from the abstract and Daily Mail article.)

Photo: Sophie Lair-Berreby

Ijzerman, H., & Semin, G. (2010). Temperature perceptions as a ground for social proximity Journal of Experimental Social Psychology DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.07.015

 

Why A Good Friend Has the S...

Newsletter: Share: