In the research reported here, we investigated how suspicious nonverbal cues from other people can trigger feelings of physical coldness. There exist implicit standards for how much nonverbal behavioral mimicry is appropriate in various types of social interactions, and individuals may react negatively when interaction partners violate these standards. One such reaction may be feelings of physical coldness. Participants in three studies either were or were not mimicked by an experimenter in various social contexts. In Study 1, participants who interacted with an affiliative experimenter reported feeling colder if they were not mimicked than if they were, and participants who interacted with a task-oriented experimenter reported feeling colder if they were mimicked than if they were not. Studies 2 and 3 demonstrated that it was not the amount of mimicry per se that moderated felt coldness; rather, felt coldness was moderated by the inappropriateness of the mimicry given implicit standards set by individual differences (Study 2) and racial differences (Study 3). Implications for everyday subjective experience are discussed.
- social cognition
- social influences