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How hot beverages build trust and empathy

Two for You — take two minutes to live and lead with intention

Episode 3.3

Did you know that simply holding a hot beverage warms more than your hands? Researchers have found that when people hold a hot drink for even a short amount of time, they are more likely to judge others as having a “warm” character. Why? The insula, or insular cortex, of our brain is the place where we both form judgments of others and where our body’s homeostasis is regulated. Thus, as we hold hot beverages, our interpersonal experiences such as compassion, trust, generosity, and empathy are positively influenced.



Note: Two for You written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.

[Denise] Hello and welcome to Two for You. It's a balmy day in northern Minnesota so we thought we'd come to you from the great outdoors clutching our cups of hot beverages. Lori's, I imagine, is coffee. Mine is not. But these the hot beverages are doing more than simply warming our insides and our hands.

[Lori] So, a few weeks ago, we were having a team meeting and Denise asked us, "Oh, make sure you take the time to go grab your hot beverage, and many of us remarked how much better we felt. So, I took the time to look into the research and here is what the research is behind that. So researchers at Yale looked at people holding a hot beverage in their hand versus a cold beverage in their hand even for a small amount of time. What they found was that people who were holding a hot beverage found more empathy, found more trust, and had more compassion in others. And why that is, is that the insula or the insular cortex of our brain is the place where we both find judgment of others as well as where we perceive the agreeable temperature around us or the warmth around us.

[Denise] Next time you're gathering a group together in your community or as leaders, you bring your team together, take the time to get the hot beverages there. Open everyone's minds to a little bit more trust as you live and lead with intention. 

Authors: Lori Rothstein and Denise Stromme, former Extension educators

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