Hot under the collar in a lukewarm environment: Words associated with hot temperature increase aggressive thoughts and hostile perceptions

C. Nathan DeWall, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

To describe mental states that precede aggression and violence, people frequently use words related to hot temperatures. Two experiments examined whether exposure to words related to hot temperatures increases aggressive thoughts, even in the absence of heat. In both experiments, participants were first exposed to words related to either heat, cold, or neutral concepts. Next, participants completed measures that assessed aggressive cognition. In Experiment 1, participants completed a word stem completion task in which some word stems (e.g., "ki _ _") could be completed with either aggressive (e.g., "kill") or nonaggressive (e.g., "kiss") words. In Experiment 2, participants were presented with an ambiguous description of a person and then provided ratings regarding that person's hostility. In both studies, exposure to hot temperature words, relative to cold temperature and neutral words, increased aggressive thoughts and hostile perceptions. These findings show a strong link in memory between words related to hot temperatures and aggressive thoughts and biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1047
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Heat
  • Priming
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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