Near Is Warm, Relational

I had heard before: warm is near:

‘Holding warm feelings toward someone’’ and ‘‘giving someone the cold shoulder’’ indicate different levels of social proximity. In this article, we show effects of temperature that go beyond these metaphors people live by. In three experiments, warmer conditions, compared with colder conditions, induced (a) greater social proximity, (b) use of more concrete language, and (c) a more relational focus. Different temperature conditions were created by either handing participants warm or cold beverages (Experiment 1) or placing them in comfortable warm or cold ambient conditions (Experiments 2 and 3). (more; HT Eric Barker via Katja Grace)

I had not heard: in near mode we talk more about the relations between things, relative to their categories or properties:

An … argument found in cultural psychology suggests that cultures emphasizing interdependence (placing the self in general in social proximity to others) are more likely to emphasize relationships, whereas cultures emphasizing independence (placing the self in general in lower social proximity to others) are more likely to emphasize properties. Similar conclusions have been drawn in a wide array of research: Individuals from cultures emphasizing interdependence not only tend to categorize objects on the basis of interrelatedness, but also perceive Rorschach cards more as patterns and detect more changes in relationships between objects, compared with individuals from cultures emphasizing independence, who tend more to categorize objects on the basis of shared categories (and features), to focus on details, and to detect changes in central properties of objects. …

On the basis of this reasoning in cultural psychology, and the fact that warmer temperatures led to use of more concrete language in Experiment 2, we hypothesized that a warmer temperature would produce a greater focus on relationships, or interdependence, between objects portrayed in a perceptual focus task, and that this effect would be mediated by language use. … [Our data] analysis confirmed that participants in the warm condition had a greater relational perspective than participants in the cold condition.

See also more support for far being happy.

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  • Adam M

    Strange, I would have thought the opposite. Far mode is associated with more chunking in memory, more assimilation toward a reference point, and more idealistic views. It just seems more relation-y, at least in regard to nonsocial tasks like the one this experiment used. Colour me confused.