Cold-blooded loneliness: Social exclusion leads to lower skin temperatures

H. IJzerman, M. Gallucci, W.T.J.L. Pouw, S. Weiβgerber, N.J. van Doesum, K.D. Williams

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Being ostracized or excluded, even briefly and by strangers, is painful and threatens fundamental needs. Recent work by Zhong and Leonardelli (2008) found that excluded individuals perceive the room as cooler and that they desire warmer drinks. A perspective that many rely on in embodiment is the theoretical idea that people use metaphorical associations to understand social exclusion (see Landau, Meier, & Keefer, 2010). We suggest that people feel colder because they are colder. The results strongly support the idea that more complex metaphorical understandings of social relations are scaffolded onto literal changes in bodily temperature: Being excluded in an online ball tossing game leads to lower finger temperatures (Study 1), while the negative affect typically experienced after such social exclusion is alleviated after holding a cup of warm tea (Study 2). The authors discuss further implications for the interaction between body and social relations specifically, and for basic and cognitive systems in general. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-288
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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