As I descend the escalators to the arrival level, however, I was suddenly hit by a totally different sensation. People started to loom large in my face. Noise came at me from all angles. Movements became fast and chaotic. I smelled food of all kinds. I thought to myself: I have to get out of here.
It is the same airport, same scenes, same people. Only seconds apart. Why does it give me such radically different sensations? Suddenly, what I was reading in Walter Mischel’s “The Marshmallow Test” came to mind. A “hot” arousing system that focuses on the immediate, close-up, emotional features and impulsive reactions. And a “cool” cognitive system that focuses on the abstract, at-a-distance, informational aspects and thinking reactions.
When I was standing 10 meters above, the distance allowed me to exercise my cool cognitive system. When I came down the escalators, the shortened distance triggered my hot, reactive system. I would like to thank Mischel’s well-researched book for helping me understand myself, and how people (specifically our brains) work.