Series on Persuasion: Hot and Cold

What do people mean when they describe a person as ‘cold’? Whether at work or in our personal relationships, we like to feel comfortable and appreciated. We count these traits in if we want to trust someone as well. Take this experiment for an instance.


A Yale experiment took two groups of individuals. Each group was to conduct a quick interview with a potential job candidate and then determine if they would hire the individual based on their quick interaction. Both groups interviewed the same guy with the same set of questions in the exact same environment. Before the interview and meeting the candidate, the test groups were asked to hold a beverage. Group A was given a warm beverage; Group B was given a cold beverage. Across the board, the group primed with a warm beverage said they would hire the candidate, Group B, given the cold beverage, all said they would not hire the candidate!

The simple act of priming the target with a warm beverage totally changed the outcome of the interview, all unconsciously. Next time you are performing an on-site penetration test, have a warm drink handy and find an excuse to get your target to hold it for you. The idea is that the warm drink triggers thoughts of comfort, warmth, and friendliness. These triggers change people’s perception of events after the priming.