Warmth, spatial proximity, and social attachment: The embodied perception of a social metaphor

Adam J. Fay*, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Recent experiments in embodied social cognition suggest a fundamental link between physical warmth and social affiliation. Findings from two experiments support the hypothesis that physical warmth serves as a symbolic cue signaling the close proximity of a source of affiliation. In Experiment 1, participants perceived a warm object as being physically closer than a cold object. In Experiment 2, being primed with warmth led participants to display higher levels of self-reported social affiliative motivation. In both studies, effects were moderated by individual differences in attachment style; priming effects were pronounced among those low in attachment avoidance and those high in attachment anxiety. These findings contribute to a growing literature suggesting deep connections between perception, physical experience, and social cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1372
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Attachment
  • Embodied cognition
  • Social affiliation
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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