Researchers Find that Hot Drinks Can Improve Mood

Dennis Faas's picture

Having a bad day at the office? Here's a solution only some of you may have discovered: a hot drink. According to a recent study, the warmth of a steaming cup of coffee, hot tea, or decadent cappuccino can improve one's mood. Conversely, researchers found a cold drink can have the opposite effect.

Researchers in the journal Science recently tested the role hot and cold drinks have on personality. Lead researcher John Bargh and his University of Colorado team interviewed forty-one volunteers while holding a warm drink. The researchers presented subjects with total strangers -- people they might cross on the bus, in a restaurant, or just out in the middle of a busy sidewalk -- and asked how they felt about these unfamiliar folk. Rating the strangers on a scale from one to seven (one being coldest, least friendly), those holding the hot drink were 11 per cent more likely to rate people warm and friendly.

On the flip side, researchers asked volunteers to hold a frozen therapeutic pad for several minutes. Suddenly, subjects were asked if they'd personally like a drink, or instead a voucher that would guarantee a drink for a friend. Those who handled the cold pads were more likely to take the drink for themselves. When researchers tested their theory by providing subjects with a warm pad, these were the people more likely to take the voucher for their friend. (Source:

Bargh certainly believes the findings are significant. "It appears that the effect of physical temperature is not just on how we see others, it affects our own behaviour as well. Physical warmth can make us see others as warmer people, but also causes us to be warmer, more generous and trusting as well," he remarked. (Source:

It's not clear whether this means people who live in warmer climates are more friendly by nature. It would stand to reason that it takes the sudden feeling of warmth, and not a steady sweat, to improve one's mood.

Is the research meaningful, or a steaming pile of something else altogether? Well, the scientists involved believe that the very same part of the brain processes both psychological and physical warmth information. In other words, it would seem that at least one in ten people who grab a hot cup of joe at the local Starbucks will be just a bit more receptive to total strangers, and, quite possibly, their friends and family, too. (Source:

Of course, I'd be much happier if Starbucks just knocked a couple bucks off the cost of that coffee.

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