The Situationist

When Salsa Is More Than Salsa . . .

Posted by Adam Benforado on December 20, 2010

Ask anyone in legal academia about the annual U.S. News rankings and you will undoubtedly hear a long list of complaints about how they fail to capture the strengths and weaknesses of schools, encourage deans to invest in the wrong things, and offer little true insight for prospective students.

Yet no one has managed to articulate a feasible plan for breaking free from their choke hold and so nearly every law school in the country plays the rankings game to one degree or another, whether it is hiring experts to help increase incoming LSAT scores or sending out glossy brochures to the chosen few who vote on faculty reputation scores.

A few weeks ago, however, Brooklyn Law School took things to a new level by sending out . . . spicy salsa!

As my colleague, Dan Filler, argued over at the Faculty Lounge, the idea was clearly to get everyone thinking that Brooklyn Law is “hot” right now.  Indeed, the label on the glass jar says as much.

But I wonder about the mechanism.

Could there be some embodied cognition effects going on here?

Could this be the natural extension of Lawrence Williams and John Bargh’s 2008 Science article “Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth“?

As Williams and Bargh suggested, “‘Warmth’ is the most powerful personality trait in social judgment . . . [and] experiences of physical warmth (or coldness) . . . increase feelings of interpersonal warmth (or coldness), without the person’s awareness of this influence.”

It’s time to do an experiment looking at whether eating hot (spicy) food leads to judgments that people, ideas, and entitities are “hot.”

Budding psychologist collaborators out there, let’s pull the IRB together and get this study up and running.  I’ll supply the salsa.

* * *

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Embodied Situation of Power,”  The Situational Power of Appearance and Posture,” “The Situational Effects of Hand-Washing,” Embodied Rationality,” andThe Embodied Cognition Bonanza!.”

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One Response to “When Salsa Is More Than Salsa . . .”

  1. bork said

    ugh i can’t bear to read yet another one of these silly psych science articles. cold and lonely, dark and unethical, clean and virtuous, etc etc.

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