Who Needs the Cold Shoulder? Study Says Giving a Cold Hand is Just as Effective

Who Needs the Cold Shoulder? Study Says Giving a Cold Hand is Just as Effective


I’ve heard of giving people “the cold shoulder” (and certainly given it to at least a few people in my day). Until recently I didn’t know that my cold hands might be giving people the same stand-offish vibe. Then I saw a study published in the journal Science, where researchers Dr. Lawrence E. Williams and Dr. John a Bargh explored “the connection between our perceptions of physical and psychological warmth.” What they found surprised me – and might surprise anyone else like me who experiences perpetually cold hands.

They discovered that warm hands are more likely to create a perception of warmth and friendliness in the people you encounter. Cold hands, as you might guess, have the opposite effect. When your hands are cold, or you touch someone else who has cold hands, you’re more likely to perceive them as untrustworthy or unfriendly.

Psychologists have long known that human touch is a critical part of developing physical and psychological stability. It can lower cortisol levels to reduce stress, increase production of white blood cells to boost immunity, and encourage our brains to produce more serotonin. This study shows that it can also have a broader psychological impact on our connection to the people we encounter every day.

As a person who has spent a fair amount of time blowing on my hands or rubbing them together to warm them up, this all got me thinking. Have I been giving people the wrong impression when I meet them and shake hands on a cold day or in a way-too-air-conditioned restaurant or office building?

I know I’m not alone in this. Millions of people have cold hands for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s just because it’s winter and you live in a place with frigid temperatures like the Rocky Mountains, the Upper Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Canada, Alaska … this list could go on, but you get the picture. For others it’s the result of anemia, blood or thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, or hypersensitive nerves from a condition like lupus, scleroderma, or Raynaud’s disease. I assume all these people want the same thing I want – warm hands, and to not give off an unfriendly or untrustworthy vibe when our hands invariably get cold.

So I brainstormed a few potential solutions:

  • Carry a perpetually hot cup of coffee. My local coffee shop might appreciate the business, but I don’t really have this kind of daily coffee budget available.
  • Stuff heating pads in all my pockets to carry around. But am I willing to be the person people refer to as “that woman who always carries around a heating pad”? We’ll put this one on the back burner for now.
  • Wear ski gloves everywhere. Some of you with cold hands reading this blog have probably already tried this (or a similar tactic). The perpetual problem here – besides also being known as “that person who wears ski gloves everywhere” – is that thick gloves make it hard to perform basic daily tasks, like sending texts, typing on a computer, cooking dinner, and taking selfies. 

Then I discovered Toasty Touch gloves. It’s the only solution that provides continuous hand warming technology without losing any of my dexterity for those daily tasks. The sleek design means I can wear them anywhere with virtually anything. Toasty Touch gloves offer the warmth of ski gloves and heating pads with the dexterity of your bare hands. Plus the rechargeable warmth keeps fingers toasty all the time.

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