An illuminating investigation of core body temperature regulation and its powerful effect on human civilization.
A hot cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa is calming and comforting – but how can holding a warm mug affect our emotions? In Heartwarming, social psychologist Hans Rocha IJzerman explores temperature through the long lens of evolution. Besides breathing, regulating body temperature is one of the most fundamental tasks for any animal. Like huddling penguins, we humans have long relied on one another to maintain our temperatures; over millennia, this instinct for thermoregulation has shaped our lives and culture.
Temperature contributed to our evolution – our upright walking, our loss of fur, and our big brains – and now continues to affect our lives in unexpected ways, and the link from a warm mug to our emotions is anything but straightforward. Studies have shown, for example, that a chilly deliberation room can predispose a jury to convict and that a cold day can make us more likely to buy a house. Our mind-body connection works the other way, too: thinking about friendly or caring people can make us feel warmer. Understanding how we subconsciously strive to keep our temperature in an optimal range can help us in our relationships, jobs, and even in the world of social media.
As IJzerman illuminates how temperature affects human sociality, he examines fascinating new questions: How will climate change impact society? Why are some people chronically cold, and others overheated? Can thermoregulation keep relationships closer, even across a distance? The answers offer new insights for all of us who want to better understand our bodies, our minds, and each other. Heartwarming takes readers on an engaging journey through the world, seen from the perspectives of coldness and warmth.
Hans Rocha IJzerman is an associate professor in social psychology at the Universite Grenoble Alpes and the foremost expert on social thermoregulation in humans. His writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Huffington Post. He lives in France.
"From huddling penguins to the benefits of living where it's warm, Hans Rocha IJzerman's Heartwarming takes us on a smart and fascinating tour of body temperature – how we control it and how it controls us. It turns out that thermoregulation connects to most everything you care about: your health, your social life, and your ability to sell your house. Best enjoyed – you'll see why – with a hot beverage."
– Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship
"Hot tea, central heating, iced coffee, snuggling: physical warmth and cold deeply affect how we think and make decisions, even how we love – due to ancient brain wiring. This book on 'social thermoregulation' will improve the way you live, even explain the hidden payoffs of your zoom calls with friends, your nostalgia for home and your hours spent in cozy cafes. It's hard science, original ideas, animal tales and revealing insights about humanity. It's fascinating! "
– Helen Fisher, author of Why We Love
"Thermal regulation is one of the most obvious aspects of life governance. Why would we have invented central heating and air conditioning if it were not? Still, it always takes a back seat to eating and drinking. Hans Rocha IJzerman's informative book will change your mind."
– Antonio Damasio, author of The Strange Order of Things
"Hans Rocha IJzerman sticks a thermometer into every human and animal behavior to show us how much depends on outside and inside temperature. It is a surprising take that illuminates far more than you might think."
– Frans de Waal, New York Times best-selling author of Mama's Last Hug