Feeling lonely? It might be that you're just cold according to study

Feeling lonely? You might just be cold: People are more likely to seek out company of friends and loved ones when exposed to lower temperatures, study finds

  • A new experiment reveals cold people are more inclined to reach out to friends
  • Conversely, being warmer tends to leave people feeling less inclined to connect
  • Based on interviews with 78 people in temperatures ranging from 46°F to 82°F

Results from a new experiment suggests that people are more likely to seek out the company of old friends and loved ones when they’re in colder environments.

The research comes from a joint research project by Adam Fay, from the State University of New York, and Jon Maner, of Florida State University. 

The experiment was built around an in-person interview during which subjects were asked how likely they would be to reach out to an old friend or loved one in the coming week.

A new joint research paper supports the longstanding theory that people who are physically cold are more likely to seek out companionship or social connection

The twist came in the form of temperatures they were exposed to – a variable that seemed to influence how they answered questions – supporting a longstanding theory that people feel more content being alone in warmer temperatures and more socially needful in colder ones.

For the experiment, researchers selected 78 people for interviews, according to a report in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

The researchers explained the purpose of the interview was to examine attitudes about a heated back wrap device, which the subjects were asked to wear during the interview.

After a few questions about how the wrap felt, the researchers asked a series of questions about social activities during the upcoming week, including how likely the subject would be to reach out to an old friend or a loved one.

During this portion of the questioning, some subjects had the back wrap set to produce a mild heat, while others had their back wraps turned off.

Based on interviews with 78 people, researchers found the warmer the surrounding temperature, the less inclined people were to say they would reach out to an old friend or loved one in the coming week

The people answering with the wrap set to a mild heat were consistently less likely than those without any heat coming from it to say they’d consider reaching out to a friend or loved one.

The same general effect was observed on days with warmer temperatures, with a range of ambient temperature between 46°F to 82°F during the questioning.

According to Maner and Fay, these results ‘suggest that seemingly subtle changes in temperature can have important implications for the psychology of social affiliation, and such findings apply in real-world contexts outside the laboratory.’


Millions of men across the UK are hiding feelings of loneliness, research revealed back in May.

As many as 35 per cent of men in Britain feel lonely at least once a week, while 11 per cent admit to suffering with the emotion every day, according to a study by the Commission by Royal Voluntary Service.

Moving away from family and friends is the main driver of loneliness, causing 18 per cent of cases, the research adds.

Going through a break up, being unemployed and the death of a family member are the causes in 17 per cent of sufferers, the study found

Over 25 per cent of men aged 65 to 69 blame retirement for their loneliness, the research adds.

David McCullough, chief executive of older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service, said: ‘These are stark findings, but given the stigma attached to loneliness it’s likely there are many more men who are yet to voice their feelings.

‘Whether it’s learning a new skill, practicing an old one or just keeping fit and talking, there are activities and groups run across the country to suit all tastes and which offer a great way for older men to build their social networks.

‘Unfortunately, for some, the prospect of joining a new group may be daunting and we’d encourage those with older male friends and relatives to help them overcome these fears – perhaps by offering to take them or even joining in with them the first few times.’ 


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