Warm, fuzzy memories really are warm and fuzzy

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Ah, warm memories of bygone days…. who knew they really were warm? Research from the University of Southampton shows that nostalgia makes us feel physically warmer in addition to allowing us to tolerate colder temperatures for longer periods of time.

From the ice cold water plunge to sitting in a hot box…

The study tested the effects of nostalgic feelings on reaction to cold and the perception of warmth. Volunteers from China and the Netherlands took part in one of five studies. The first asked people to keep a log of their nostalgic feelings over 30 days. Results showed they felt more nostalgic on colder days. The second study placed volunteers in one of three rooms set to different temperatures. They then recorded their nostalgic feelings. The cold room recorded the most. The third test had to do with music evoking nostalgia and/or warmth. Participants said music made them nostalgic and also made them warm. The fourth test recorded perceptions about physical warmth. Participants were placed in a cold room and instructed to recall a memory or event from their past. They were then asked to guess the room’s temperature. They perceived the room as warmer than it actually was. The final test asked volunteers to think of a past event and plunge their hand in ice cold water for as long as possible. They held their hand in the water for longer when thinking of a nostalgic event.

Nostalgia changes our perception of temperature and gives us comfort

“Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort. For example, nostalgic reverie can combat loneliness. We wanted to take that a step further and assess whether it can also maintain physiological comfort. Our study has shown that nostalgia serves a homeostatic function, allowing the mental simulation of previously enjoyed states, including states of bodily comfort; in this case making us feel warmer or increasing our tolerance of cold More research is now needed to see if nostalgia can combat other forms of physical discomfort, besides low temperature,” said Dr. Tim Wildschut, senior lecturer at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Emotion


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