Monday, July 20, 2009

Free will and a cup of coffee

Recently, Lawrence Williams and John A. Bargh showed that holding a warm cup of coffee makes you have more positive attitudes towards a stranger than when you hold a cup of ice coffee. In another experiment it came out that people who held a cold pad in their hands were more selfish than people holding a warm pad. If these results can be substantiated in other experiments, then the conclusion must be that our physical environment has an important influence upon what we want and wish. But if the temperature of a cup of coffee can influence what we do, what does remain then of the free will? Maybe it is that we must first decide whether we want to have our coffee hot or cold before we take a decision, but not while drinking another cup of coffee.

2 comments:

Luzdeana said...

I had not heard about that experiment, but warm weather has always had a positive effect on my mood. That's why I love Spring and summer, I suppose.
About your question, could it be that our free will has to do with reasoning and sensations don´t?

HbdW said...

Free will has to do with the idea that we can decide what we want to, without being forced to it and in full awareness of what we decide and why. If I know that I decide to do something, because my hands are warm, so if this is an argment for me deciding what I want to do, there is no problem for the idea of a free will. However, can we still speak of a free will, if our decision to do something is guided by unconscious reasons? By reasons we are not aware of and that are no part of our conscious argument? That is the problem that is put forward by the coffee-cup-experiment (and other experiments of this type).