New research has found that feeling nostalgic can make us feel physically warmer.
The research from the University of Southampton used five studies to investigate the effects of nostalgic feelings on people’s reaction to cold and the perception of warmth.
In the first study, volunteers, who were recruited from universities in China and the Netherlands, were asked to keep an account of their nostalgic feelings over 30 days. Results showed they felt more nostalgic on colder days, according to researchers.
In the second study, volunteers were put in one of three rooms: cold (20˚C), comfortable (24˚C) and hot (28˚C), and researchers then measured how nostalgic they felt.
Participants felt more nostalgic in the cold room than in the comfortable and hot rooms, according to the scientists, who noted that the volunteers in the comfortable and hot rooms did not differ.
The third study, conducted online, used music to evoke nostalgia to see if it was linked to warmth. The participants who said the music made them feel nostalgic also tended to say that the music made them feel warmer, the researchers report.
The fourth study tested the effect of nostalgia on physical warmth by placing volunteers in a cold room and instructing them to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They were then asked to guess the temperature of the room.
Those who recalled a nostalgic event perceived the room as warmer, the researchers note.
The final study again instructed the volunteers to recall either a nostalgic or ordinary event from their past. They then were asked to place their hands in ice-cold water to see how long they could stand it.
Findings showed that the volunteers who indulged in nostalgia held their hand in the water for longer, according to the researchers.
“Nostalgia is experienced frequently and virtually by everyone and we know that it can maintain psychological comfort,” said sociologist Dr. Tim Wildschut, senior lecturer at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study.
“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,” he continued. “More research is now needed to see if nostalgia can combat other forms of physical discomfort, besides low temperature.”
The study was published in the journal Emotion.
Source: University of Southampton