3 Surprising Things About Coffee

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By Vinita Mehta

“Coffee is a language in itself,” Jackie Chan once said. It is doubtful that he had scientific research on his mind when he made this statement, but studies bear him out. The brewed drink has been found to have powerful effects. Research efforts have largely focused on how it affects us physically, including its implications for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and overall general health. But coffee has psychological influences as well. Here are just three very curious ways it has been found to do so:

It makes you focus on the positive. Caffeine is of course known for its jolting abilities, but even a small dose of caffeine can increase positivity. Prior research has demonstrated that specific memories are strengthened when intensely positive or negative emotions are connected to objects. Moreover, caffeine perks up activity in the central nervous system, and normal doses of it can improve performance on simple behavioral and cognitive tasks. Building on these findings, investigators found that when people consumed 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee, 30 minutes before performing a task actually improved their recognition of words with positive connotations — but not their processing of emotionally neutral or negative words. The investigators maintain that this may be because caffeine stirs up the neurotransmitter dopamine (which is related to the brain‘s pleasure center) in the language-dominant regions of the brain.

It makes you see others in a more caring light. Is there a connection between physical and interpersonal warmth? Theory and research suggests that there is. Attachment theory underscores the crucial role of warm physical contact with caregivers in a person’s early years, and its influence on healthy relationship functioning in adulthood. And research has found that a part of brain called the insula is involved in processing both of these phenomena. Drawing on these lines of research, investigators tested whether experiences of physical warmth vs. coldness would heighten feelings of interpersonal warmth vs. coldness — and whether it would do so outside of conscious awareness. So they designed an experiment in which participants entered an elevator with a research confederate, who just so happened to be holding both textbooks and a cup of coffee. As she rode the elevator with each participant she asked them to briefly hold either the hot or iced cup of coffee while she jotted down some information. Shortly after, participants read a description of a stranger and were asked to evaluate their personality. What did the investigators find? Those who briefly held a cup of hot — as opposed to iced — coffee judged the stranger as having a “warmer” personality — that is, to be nicer and more generous. This finding is in keeping with the notion that warmth relates to both physical and emotional experiences.

It tastes differently, depending on the color of the mug from which it is drunk. Remarkably, research has found that when it comes to java, mug color can influence taste perception. Consider a study in which participants drank a hot café latte from either a transparent (glass), white or blue mug. Participants rated the “intensity” of the coffee flavor to be greater when it was drunk from the white mug as opposed to the transparent mug, and to be “less sweet” in the white mug by comparison to the transparent and blue mugs. They investigators maintain that the color contrast between the mug and the coffee may have influenced the perceived intensity and sweetness of the coffee. More specifically, drinking coffee from the white mug may have affected how people perceived the brownness of the coffee and, subsequently, may have influenced the perceived intensity and sweetness of the brew.

Original Article from  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/head-games/201703/3-surprising-things-about-coffee

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