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Embodied cognition is the idea that the human body influences thoughts and vice versa; physical heat should cause a decrease in loneliness (“social coldness”) reports while physical coolness should cause an increase. Answering questions on an impersonal computer should increase loneliness reports relative to answering questions on paper. So far, 67 of a planned 150 undergraduate students have participated, completing the UCLA loneliness scale and evaluation questionnaire after holding a heated or cooled therapeutic pack. Preliminary results revealed a main effect of questionnaire type, no main effect of pack temperature and no interaction of questionnaire and pack temperature. If embodied cognition correctly identifies the relationship between physical and social warmth, then people who are more depressed (feel socially cold) may exhibit more physical warmth-seeking behaviors than those who are less depressed. Undergraduate students scoring either higher or lower on a standardized measure of depression will be invited to complete a questionnaire identifying heat-seeking behaviors. Data is still being collected at this time.

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Greg Elvers

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The Effect of Temperature on Self-Reported Isolation