Study reveals why you’re more likely to feel lonely during winter

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  • We can end up feeling lonely when the temperature plummets, according to new research from two American universities - and there's a reason why.

    New research from the State University of New York and Florida State University discovered that ‘subtle changes in temperature can have important implications for the psychology of social affiliation’. These findings suggest that temperature can affect social judgements, and can make us feel lonely.

    The study, conducted by Adam Fay and Jon Maner, spoke to 78 people who were experiencing different temperatures. These ranged from comfortably warm to cold. Half of these participants had a hot battery-powered band wrapped around their waist.

    Each participant was asked to describe how they were feeling, and how likely they would be do go and visit friends. The research revealed that those who experienced less heat had a greater need to socialise, compared to those with the warm patch.

    People who feel cold physically could also feel ‘cold’ emotionally, and therefore have a greater desire to seek out more social interactions, the study suggests.

    lonely

    Credit: Getty Images

    It went on to say, “In colder ambient environments, for example, people report greater loneliness, and they pursue both physical warmth and social affiliation.

    “Consistent with previous research, people expressed greater intentions to affiliate on colder days.” Based on this, winter seems like the perfect time for cosy nights in with family and friends. It might make the world of difference!

    Of course, loneliness isn’t exclusive to the seasons, and many people experience this feeling on a daily basis. Last year, a study by the Co-op and British Red Cross revealed that over 9 million people in the UK suffer from loneliness.

    In fact, Campaign to End Loneliness suggested that its ‘one of the largest health concerns we face’. Various studies have revealed it can lead to dementia, heart disease and depression.

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