Heart-warming: How film fans can't help turning to romantic comedies when the weather turns cold
Summer is traditionally the time for action-filled blockbusters, while Christmas is usually when cinemas are overflowing with romantic comedies – and scientists may have found out why.
A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that consumers choose romance movies over other genres when they feel cold.
'We often think of love as being warm. This link between love and warmth appears in everyday language, songs, and poems,' write authors Jiewen Hong (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) and Yacheng Sun (University of Colorado, Boulder).
Winter warmers: Christmas is traditionally the time when we like to curl up infront of romantic comedies – like New Year's Eve starring Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer
'But is the connection between romantic love and warmth just a metaphor or is there indeed a direct link between romance and physical warmth'
In their study, the authors examined the association between romance and warmth in the context of movie preference.
The research involved four laboratory studies and an analysis of data from an online movie rental company. In their studies, the authors tested a prediction that romance films are more desirable when people are physically cold, because coldness activates a need for psychological warmth.
In one study, the authors found that participants who drank cold tea were more likely than people who drank warm tea to choose romance movies over movies from other genres.
In another study, the researchers varied the temperature in the room where participants were seated and found the same results.
Interestingly, when participants were made aware of their physical coldness before being asked to make a movie choice, the preference for romance movies disappeared.
Scientifically proven: Researchers found that romance films, like Love Actually, pictured, are more desirable when people are physically cold, because coldness activates a need for psychological warmth
To show that the laboratory findings also exist in the real world, the authors analyzed a set of movie rental data from an online DVD rental company.
They matched customers' rental records with historical temperature information and found that, after controlling for customers' movie genre preferences, people were more likely to rent romance movies when the temperature outside was lower.
'This research offers implications for the movie industry,' the authors write. 'Movie studios might be better off releasing their romance movies in the winter season, when the temperatures are low.'