This year’s winter feels endless. Studies have long shown that the cold and lack of sunshine can have a real effect on a person’s health, as well as their mental state. For example, even a minor decrease in vitamin D can result in general aches and pains. The constant darkness can also cause depression, which, this time of year, is more commonly known as the winter blues.
A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research has revealed that the frigid season also influences people’s taste in entertainment, which explains why movie theaters are often jam packed with action and epic films during the summer, and romance and comedies from December through March. This is because when consumers feel cold, their preferences shift.
“We often think of love as being warm,” explain authors Jiewen Hong and Yacheng Sun. “This link between love and warmth appears in everyday language, songs and poems.”
Their statement is undeniable. Picture a romantic scene- what comes to mind? A cozy fireplace, a sunny beach, candlelight… Some may picture a walk in the snow, but what are the lovers doing? Huddling together, appreciating the warmth they find in each other in contrast to their chilly surroundings.
Is There a Real Connection?
The authors conducted their study in order to discover whether the connection between love and warmth is merely a metaphor, or if there is in fact a physical connection between the two.
In their research, Hong and Sun included four lab studies and a detailed analysis of an online movie rental company. They predicted that romantic films are more desirable when they are dealing with physical cold, because the chill triggers a need for balance through psychological warmth.
In one of the tests, the researchers sat participants in rooms with various temperatures and gave them a choice of films to watch. The colder participants all leaned towards romance or comedy, both feel-good genres. The authors were interested to discover that once they pointed out the coldness to participants, they no longer preferred romance. This reveals a subconscious link.
To prove that the findings are indeed relevant beyond the confines of a lab, the study analyzed movie rental data from a DVD rental company, matching it to the coinciding weather and outdoor temperature. People were indeed more inclined to rent romance movies during colder periods.
So next time you’re feeling cold and a little down, why not follow the trend and curl up with a blanket, a hot cup of tea and a cozy, feel-good romantic flick?