If you're suddenly feeling a little flushed and haven't been exercising, you might want to check if there's a man touching you. No seriously, a new study has just found
that men have the powers to make the temperature of our face go up and
we often don't even realize it.
For the study, researchers wanted to see how emotions affected facial temperatures. They took heat-showing pictures of two groups of young, straight women while they had a "standard interaction" with a male or female experimenter. The experimenter was given a light probe that for measuring skin color, but it actually was a ruse to allow them to touch the girl on the arm, the palm, the face, and the chest.
Regardless of the gender of the experimenter, the participant's skin temperature went up about a tenth of a degree Celsius on average when they were touched. Touches to the arm or palm caused the smallest increase, while touching the face and chest caused the biggest increase in heat. And if the experimenter was male, the spike in temperature was about three times larger.
Researcher Amanda Hahn explains more on this shift in temperatures (via Live Science):
This is the sort of magnitude of change you would see when you are doing an explicit emotional stressor. We weren't manipulating their emotional or affective state, it was a subtle social interaction with the experimenter … but they had pretty large reactions.
What this means is that their faces would automatically have level of reaction even if the women weren't scared or stressed. And most of them didn't even realize their faces were heating up, with "Only about a quarter of the sample reported feeling any emotional change."