Study: Feeling Cold is Contagious

There's a saying: Put a sweater on if your mother feels cold. It may seem silly, but a recent study shows that feeling cold can, indeed, be contagious.

There's a saying: Put a sweater on if your mother feels cold. It may seem silly, but a recent study shows that feeling cold can be contagious.

Melissa Dahl from NYMag writes on the research, published online on PLOS ONE, led by Neil Harrison, a Neuropsychiatrist from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Harrison conducted a study where 36 students were shown a three-minute video containing one of four scenes: an actor adding hot water to a clear container and putting a hand in the water; an actor dumping a bag full of ice into a transparent container and placing his right or left hand in the water; or one of two scenes showing an actor placing a hand in water. Only the hand was shown, so the actor didn't reveal any facial cues as to the temperature of the water.

Researchers measured the temperature of the participants' hands before and after viewing one of the videos. They found that the participants that watched the actors submerge their hands into the ice water experienced a significant drop in their own corresponding hand. However, no significant change was measured with participants that watch the hot or neutral videos.

In his paper, Harrison puzzles over why the hot water video had no effect. He explains it could be how the video was set up. Participants could see the ice cubes floating in the cold water throughout the three-minute scene, but the steam rising from the hot water was only visible in the beginning of the video. Other than that there were no visible cues that screamed “hot water” in the participants minds. Then again, Harrison offers another possibility in press release:

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

Why this “temperature contagion” exists could have roots in our ability to empathize with others.

"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."

Read more at NYMag

Photo Credit: Patty Pattara/Flickr

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

Why we must teach students to solve big problems

The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.

Future of Learning
  • Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
  • Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
  • "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
Keep reading Show less

Allosaurus dabbled in cannibalism according to new fossil evidence

These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.

Fig 3. Shed lateral tooth of Allosaurus sp. (MWC 5011) found at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry, white arrow indicates the distal denticles.

Stephanie K. Drumheller
Surprising Science
  • Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
  • Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
  • It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…