Category Archives: environment

The Surprising New Science of Physical Intelligence!


The Surprising New Science of Physical intelligence

This post throws light on the surprising but real science of how our environment and situations shape our behavior.Read on….

The last few decades have unraveled unknown frontiers of human behavior. Scientists have been studying the rather interesting and surprising ways our thoughts, decisions are and actions are unconsciously influenced by our physical senses. Now a best selling new book takes readers on an exciting tour of these cutting edge studies and after reading this you will never think or look at a cup of coffee, the color red, or the smell of cinnamon in the same way again.


Warm temperatures make us temporarily friendlier. The color red causes us to perform poorly on tests. Heavy clipboards make the CVs clipped to them seem more impressive. Clean smells promote moral behavior. Sports Teams in black jerseys are given more penalties than teams in other colors.


From the world’s leading expert on the new science of physical intelligence, here is the true story of how the body profoundly affects our thoughts, emotions and decisions about everything from the people we like to the ways we work. Our environment – colors, temperatures, heavy or light objects – influences us in surprising ways that have been hidden until now.

In a path breaking book titled Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence, Professor Thalma Lobel offers a surprising exploration of how sensations, scents, colors, tastes, and visual perceptions significantly influence us, Prof.Lobel presents a series of studies one after another and explains how these unexpected findings have significant implications on almost everything we do in life.

Thalma Lobel shares these fascinating new findings – like how clean smells promote moral behavior and sports teams in black jerseys are given more penalties than teams in other colors – to reveal how shockingly impressionable we are to sensory input from the world around us.

While bestsellers like Predictably Irrational and Thinking, Fast and Slow explain the ways we make predictable, systematic cognitive errors, Sensation is a pioneering book that shows how vulnerable we are to the unconscious influence of our senses over our minds.



Listed below are interesting examples of the phenomenon of Physical Intelligence at Work in our lives

  1.  Let’s imagine that you are on your first date. What do you think would be the better choice of beveragea warm cup of tea or coffee, or a cold soda or beer?

In one study researchers gave two groups of participants a description of a person who was intelligent, skillful, practical, determined, industrious, and cautious, then asked them to rate the person on several other characteristics. Prior to reading the description, participants were asked to hold the researcher’s coffee for a moment (while the researcher made a quick note). Half were handed a warm cup of hot coffee and half were handed a cold cup of ice coffee.

Participants who held the warm cup judged the person in the description as being generous, caring and good natured (i.e., warm) while those who held the cold cup judged the same person as being irritable, antisocial, and selfish (i.e. cold)! Again, both groups had read the exact same description. The only difference was the few moments they spent holding either a warm or cold coffee cup.

This shows that you should perhaps choose a nice cup of tea during a first date and not a cold soda or a beer, as it will put in a more positive state for judging your companion.

  1.  In another situation visualize that you’re negotiating a new purchase, or an important deal. What type of chair should you sit on—and what kind of chair should you offer to the person with whom you’re negotiating?

A unique set of studies demonstrated that sitting on a hard chair makes us tougher (harder) negotiators, and sitting on a soft chair makes us less aggressive (softer) negotiators. Therefore, it would be worth your while to try to sit on a hard chair and offer a soft chair to the other person.

  1.  What about the impact of colors? For example the color red is the color of visceral emotions according to Prof. Lobel. In a series of tests conducted by American and German researchers they went about finding the connection between the red color ad performance in IQ tests.

In a study on the effect of color, men were shown pictures of the same woman, but wearing different color blouses—each man saw one picture with the woman wearing either a red, blue, green or gray blouse. The men consistently rated the image of the woman in the red blouse as sexier and more attractive. They also reported a greater desire to date the woman in red, and were willing to spend more money on a date with her than the same woman in a green, blue or gray blouse. Of note: The men did not perceive the woman in red to be more intelligent, kind, or likable—just more alluring. (Remember, it was the same woman in all the images. Only the color of her blouse was different.)

Therefore, women may want to consider wearing red on a first date (and having a warm beverage)!


  1.  Let’s say you are looking for volunteers for some assignment. How can you ensure that your subjects would agree willingly to volunteer? In a 2011 study, experimenters gave different subjects a bit of chocolate, a cracker, or no food. They were then asked to fill out an unrelated questionnaire, after which an experimenter told the participants that “another professor from the psychology department had just stopped by and said that volunteers for another, unrelated study were needed.” Who was more likely to volunteer? The chocolate eaters ,of course!

5. Now you’re trying to harness your creativity at work. What kind of lighting should you consider—a florescent light, a soft lamp, or a bare bulb to ignite your creativity?

We all associate a light bulb coming on with a “bright” (creative) idea. Studies found that turning on a light bulb during a task requiring creative problem-solving enhanced people’s creativity and enabled them to resolve problems more quickly than turning on a florescent light. In another study, participants were divided into two groups and given a problem that required an “out-of-the-box” solution. A first group of participants was asked to literally sit in a large cardboard box, and a second group to sit beside it (“outside the box”). As you might imagine, the participants who sat outside the box were significantly more likely to come up with creative solutions to the problem than those sitting inside the box.

You may want to switch on a naked bulb when you’re working on problems that require creativity and insight—or keeping a box beside you.

6. If you want to maximize your workouts in your home or gym, would a specific scent or smell help you?

Gyms are not usually known for having pleasant scents and many suffer from the aftermath of patrons consuming too many protein shakes but a change might be on the horizon. Recent studies found that the smell of peppermint enhances physical exercise. Working out in peppermint-scented rooms made people perceive the workout as less difficult, and helped athletes perform better than during workouts in non-scented rooms.

Other studies found that cinnamon scents improved attention and memory and that sweet smells enhanced altruism and helping behavior. As for your workouts—rather than trying to spray peppermint scent around the entire gym the next time you work out, try chewing a fresh stick of peppermint gum beforehand.

Lobel’s book has implications and takeaways for almost all aspects of life, including business and management(the length of the lines on an organization’s personnel charts have implications for how we perceive power and leadership); advertising and marketing (a company’s logo colors affect how we perceive its financial stability as well as other aspects of our personal lives (how showering impacts our morality and cheating behavior). It will give you endless material for cocktail parties and dinner conversations. So grab a warm beverage, take a whiff of cinnamon and sit down in a comfy chair for a  read.