The Warm-Cold Variable Experiment

The Warm-Cold Variable Experiment

Purpose of the experiment: The warm-cold variable experiment by Harold Kelly describes how students perceive teachers or instructors when they are given prior knowledge on the subject of interest. The primary purpose of the experiment was to study the stability of early judgments, their determinants and the relation of the decisions to the behavior of the individual making them (Kelley, 1950). The second aim of the experiment was to provide a better-controlled study for the earlier findings that, the more incompatible observers initially perceived a stimulus, the less the observers initiated an interaction with the person.

Hypotheses: There are three hypotheses in the study:

  1. Warm pre-information concerning a stimulus person influences the total impression of a personality.
  2. Cold pre-information concerning a stimulus person influences the total impression of a personality.

III.    Initial perception of a stimulus person influences the interaction with the person.

Variables: The independent variables include Warm pre-information about the subject of study and the Cold pre-information about the subject of study. The dependent variables from the study include expectations of the observer, observer’s behavior towards the stimulus and the rating of the stimulus after the experiment.

Results: The results of the experiment reveal that differences in the briefing as to warmth and coldness influenced the behavior of the observer towards the stimulus person (Lesko, 2012). Those observers that were given the warm pre-information interacted more with the stimulus person than those given the cold pre-information in the experiment.

Proposal: I agree with the results from the experiment that warm impression information promotes interaction of the students with the stimulus teacher. The info given tends to change the perception of students towards teachers leading to the observed results. However, the perception from the variables is likely to change in future if the students interact more with the teacher. Further studies should be done on the change of initial attitude of students to the stimulus when interaction is frequently made.



Kelley, H. H. (1950). The warm-cold variable in first impressions of persons. Journal of Personality, 18, 431-439.

Lesko, W. A. (2012). Readings in social psychology: General, classic, and contemporary selections. Boston: Pearson.


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