On hearing that someone is warm you will understand that we are talking about a friendly person. But why warm? Is it pure chance that we use the same adjective for describing people and for talking about concrete temperature perception? Or is there a deeper connection between these uses and experiences underlying them? These questions have attracted considerable attention from both psychologists and linguists. A recently published paper by Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm and Dmitry Nikolaev reports on a first systematic cross-lingual study of the exponents of conceptual metaphor AFFECTION IS WARMTH (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Grady, 1997), which provides the motivation for the large share of research in this area. Based on a sample of 94 languages from all around the world and using methodology borrowed from typological linguistics and mixed-effects regression modelling, this study show that the relevant expressions show a remarkably skewed distribution and seem to be absent or extremely marginal in the majority of language families and linguistic macro-areas. The study demonstrates the dramatic influence of the Anglocentric, Standard Average European, and WEIRD perspective on many of the central concepts and conclusions in linguistics, psychology and cognitive research and discusses how changing this perspective can impact research in social psychology in general and in social thermoregulation in particular.

Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M., and Nikolaev, D. (2021). Talking About Temperature and Social Thermoregulation in the Languages of the World. International Review of Social Psychology, 34(1): 22, 1–23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/irsp.410

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