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Why We Like Campfires And Cocoa

Physical warmth creates warm social feelings

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Often the most rewarding part of a long day spent backpacking or camping involves a warm fire and a hot beverage of some sort, like coffee or cocoa (or in my case, Jaegermeister). A new study from Yale shows us why: Physical warmth can actually create socially warm feelings, and causes humans to act with more generosity and empathy.

41 students were asked to hold a cup of hot or iced coffee, and then asked what their feelings were about a “fictitious person described as industrious, cautious and determined, and then rated that person’s presumed personality traits.” People who held the hot coffee were more likely to exhibit a charitable impression of the fake person than those who held the cold coffee.

In a more convincing second study, another group of students held either a hot or a cold pad and then, as a thank you for participating, choose a reward for themselves or for a friend. Students clutching a heating pad were far more likely to pick a present for their homies instead of themselves. Awwwww.

Moral of the story: If you’re hiking and or camping with someone you don’t like, build a fire and share a hot drink. You’ll be friends in no time (especially if you use Jaeger).

Need ideas? For the best camp-side hot drink recipes, click here.

—Ted Alvarez

Study: Warm hands do make warm hearts (CNN)