Body, Meet Mind

The social side of embodied cognition

Body, Meet Mind

A Warm Welcome

Peter was a student in his early twenties, and apart from several inconsequential trysts, had spent most of his life alone and indifferent to the world of love and romance. He had, in fact, become so accustomed to this lifestyle that he assumed this would be his fate, and had made peace with the prospects of a cold and lonely existence. This assumption was proven wrong when Peter met Gwen, a girl Peter had chanced to meet in one of his elective courses. Gwen aroused in Peter feelings that he had never experienced before, and he found himself uncharacteristically smitten. The feelings were immediately mutual, and within days of meeting Peter and Gwen were spending every available minute together, sharing a deep and committed relationship based on trust, passion, and intense warm feelings. Peter found his isolated existence a thing of the past, replaced now with heart-felt intimacy he had thought reserved for romance novels. Blinded by the glow of their love, Peter was almost devastated when Gwen revealed to him that she had slept with his best friend, Harry. She had fallen for Harry now, discarding Peter as if he were an inanimate object. The warmth that Peter once felt for Gwen was instantly extinguished, replaced by the cold shivers of betrayal and loneliness. The devastation that Peter experienced not only returned him to his once chilly and distant self, but plunged him even further into new depths of coldness.

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You yourself might have experienced the same type of overwhelming commitment Peter felt at one time in his life. Conversely, you may at one time have experienced a similar type of betrayal or rejection. Were such feelings accompanied by an immense sense of warmth, or a surge of coldness sweeping over your body? And how are these experiences explained psychologically? Are these experiences just linguistic conveniences, or do they reflect very deep and meaningful experiences of the human psyche? This is a major challenge that researchers – including myself – are now trying to resolve. So, I’d like to give you a warm welcome to Body, Meet Mind. Here I will discuss the ‘hottest’ warmth research findings that address Peter’s unfortunate history (and researchers, please send me your warmth research if I don’t know it yet!). This all soon too come. But in the next blog post, I will discuss another passion: Edutainment, the practice of communicating science in a – hopefully - engaging way through our online social psych magazine InMind. And who knows, I may get into saying something about the elderly later. They seemed to have gotten some heat as well recently. 

 

(note - the first part is an adapted version of what will appear later at InMind, written together with my former student Justin Saddlemyer). 

 

 

Hans IJzerman, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in social psychology at the University of Tilburg, where he investigates why the body makes people so social.

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