When Cold, We Want Romance (Movies)

Cold temperatures make romantic movies more appealing, a study indicates.
Cold temperatures make romantic movies more appealing, a study indicates. (Image credit: NicoTucol | shutterstock)

New research offers a little Valentine's Day insight: Chilly temperatures can bring the urge to cuddle up … with a romance movie.

After asking undergraduates about movies and looking at online movie rentals, scientists have found evidence that physical coldness activates a need for the psychological warmth. And what feels warmer than love? 

"Research examining the physiology of love has documented that when people are in love, they usually experience sweaty palms, ?ushing, increased heart palpitations, and accelerated breathing all of which are also associated with a physical experience of warmth," write Jiewen Hong, an assistant professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Yacheng Sun, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The desire for warmth then influences our preference for romance movies, they write. 

In a series of experiments, the duo found temperature — which they manipulated with tea or the ambient temperature in rooms — affected the participants' preferences for movies, with cold making romance movies more appealing. They found this effect was independent of mood and gender, but did not apply to those who didn't associate romance movies with psychological warmth.

They also found a relationship between cold temperatures and a preference for romances when comparing online movie rentals to the temperature at the time. [The Cost of Valentine's Day]

Their study is detailed in the February 2012 print issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Wynne Parry on Twitter @Wynne_Parry. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.

Wynne Parry
Wynne was a reporter at The Stamford Advocate. She has interned at Discover magazine and has freelanced for The New York Times and Scientific American's web site. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Utah.