When we say “Fred is a warm person,” we don’t usually mean his body temperature is hotter than average. We use metaphors such as “warm”, “high”, and “clean” to describe more abstract concepts like “friendly,” “powerful,” and “morally sound.”
So we mean that Fred is friendly, not that he has a fever. But these metaphors can actually have a powerful effect on behavior and attitudes as well. Research has shown that holding a cup of warm coffee makes people more affectionate, and portraying people in physically high locations makes them seem more powerful.
Now newer research is beginning to find that these metaphors are much more common than we might imagine — and that they work in both directions, from abstract emotions and concepts to concrete things, and back.