Dr. Thalma Lobel is an internationally recognized psychologist, and a professor at the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University, where she is the director of the child development center. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard, and a visiting researcher at Tufts, the University of California San Diego, and New York University. She is also the author of the book
“Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence.” Interview Summary:
In this interview, Thalma discusses how our senses affect the way we think, feel, and act, and references a number of fascinating scientific experiments. She first talks about how temperature and texture affect us. Thalma explains why holding a warm object can increase feelings of likeability and trust. She also explains why holding a rough object versus a soft object can make us perceive the same interaction as more argumentative or more cooperative.
Thalma then talks about how the color red impacts us. She describes how seeing red tends to reduce cognitive performance but increase physical performance. She explains how red increases anxiety and avoidant behavior, and discusses the evolutionary and cultural ties to this phenomena. Thalma also talks about why red enhances feelings of sexual attraction and desire. She goes on to describe how brightness affects us, and why light is often associated with positive things, while dark is associated with negative things. We ask her how people can use this knowledge to increase their influence.
Chris and Thalma talk about the parallels between these scientific findings and the language we use to describe people, places, and things. They discuss the relationship between physical distance and psychological distance, and how modern technology has changed the way we communicate. Thalma then talks about how vertical position and size relate to power. She explains how taller people are perceived as more powerful, and how holding larger versus smaller objects also create this effect.
Finally, Thalma discusses how taste and smell influence us. She explains why tasting something sweet enhances feelings of likeability and enthusiasm. She describes how the smell of peppermint can improve physical and cognitive performance. Thalma also talks about how the aroma of fresh baked cookies or coffee can increase likeability and attraction. In closing, she emphasizes that while any single factor might not make a huge difference, together they can have a significant influence on our behavior over time.