Caring for Sharing How Attachment Styles Modulate Communal Cues of Physical Warmth

Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.89). 09/2012; 44(2). DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000142


Does physical warmth lead to caring and sharing? Research suggests that it does; physically warm versus cold conditions induce pro-social behaviors and cognitions. Importantly, earlier research has not traced the developmental origins of the association between physical warmth and affection. The association between physical warmth and sharing may be captured in specific cognitive models of close social relations, often referred to as attachment styles. In line with this notion and using a dictator game set-up, the current study demonstrates that children who relate to their friends in the manner of a secure attachment style are more generous toward their peers in warm as compared to cold conditions. This effect was absent for children who relate to friends in the manner of an insecure attachment style, but, notably, these children not just always shared less: They allocated more stickers to a friend than to a stranger. These findings provide an important first step to understand how fundamental embodied relations develop early in life. We discuss broader implications for grounded cognition and person perception.

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Available from: Hans IJzerman
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    • "For example, physical warmth is co-experienced with close contact and social proximity (Freddi, Tessier, Lacrampe, & Dru, 2013; IJzerman & Semin, 2010), but recent studies of the moderating role of attachment styles have suggested that close contact and social proximity do not necessarily lead to interpersonal warmth. The positive link between physical and interpersonal warmth was found to be significant only for those with secure attachment styles (Fay & Maner, 2012; IJzerman et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: The concrete experience of physical warmth has been demonstrated to promote interpersonal warmth. This well-documented link, however, tells only half of the story. In the current study, we thus examined whether physical coldness can also increase interpersonal warmth under certain circumstances. We conducted three experiments to demonstrate that the relationship between the experience of physical temperature and interpersonal outcomes is context dependent. Experiment 1 showed that participants touching cold (vs. warm) objects were more willing to forgive a peer's dishonest behaviour. Experiment 2 demonstrated the fully interactive effect of temperature and context on interpersonal warmth: Participants touching cold (vs. warm) objects were less likely to assist an individual who had provided them with good service (positive social context), but more likely to assist an individual who had provided them with poor service (negative social context). Experiment 3 replicated the results of Experiment 2 using the likelihood to complain, a hostility-related indicator, as the dependent variable: In a pleasant queue (positive social context), participants touching cold objects were more likely to complain and those touching warm objects were less likely to complain compared with the control group. This pattern was reversed in an annoying queue (negative social context). © 2015 The Authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · British Journal of Social Psychology
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    • "Including the remaining studies with human participants (IJzerman & Semin, 2010; Szymkow et al., 2013; Zhong & Leonardelli, 2008) increases the average sample size to N = 51 (SD = 30.24). "
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    ABSTRACT: We respond to Williams' (2014) comments on our three failures to replicate of Study 2 from Williams and Bargh (2008). We clarify our conclusions on this topic, making clear that although the results of our studies cast doubt on the specific effect reported in Williams and Bargh (i.e., that instant hot and cold packs influence choice of reward for self or friend), a more complete understanding of the embodiment hypothesis in question requires consideration of relevant conceptual replications. Accordingly, we consider the strength of the evidence in the conceptual replications that Williams identifies and find that small samples appear to be the norm. We conclude that in order for researchers to move forward, future studies must take seriously issues of power, researcher degrees of freedom, and file drawer problems. Doing so will ensure that future studies are more informative tests of this hypothesis.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Social Psychology
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    • "However, this effect was only evident for children who were securely attached to their parents. The sharing behavior of insecurely attached children was not influenced by exposure to warmth cues (Ijzerman et al., 2013). Such findings support the view that the association between physical and psychological warmth in memory is the result of early life experiences. "
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    ABSTRACT: Current theories suggest that the brain is the sole source of mental illness. However, affective disorders, and major depressive disorder (MDD) in particular, may be better conceptualized as brain-body disorders that involve peripheral systems as well. This perspective emphasizes the embodied, multifaceted physiology of well-being, and suggests that afferent signals from the body may contribute to cognitive and emotional states. In this review, we focus on evidence from preclinical and clinical studies suggesting that afferent thermosensory signals contribute to well-being and depression. Although thermoregulatory systems have traditionally been conceptualized as serving primarily homeostatic functions, increasing evidence suggests neural pathways responsible for regulating body temperature may be linked more closely with emotional states than previously recognized, an affective warmth hypothesis. Human studies indicate that increasing physical warmth activates brain circuits associated with cognitive and affective functions, promotes interpersonal warmth and prosocial behavior, and has antidepressant effects. Consistent with these effects, preclinical studies in rodents demonstrate that physical warmth activates brain serotonergic neurons implicated in antidepressant-like effects. Together, these studies suggest that (1) thermosensory pathways interact with brain systems that control affective function, (2) these pathways are dysregulated in affective disorders, and (3) activating warm thermosensory pathways promotes a sense of well-being and has therapeutic potential in the treatment of affective disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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