Can a bath make you feel less lonely?

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Wallowing in the bath, immersed in soothing warm water, the benefits are more than sensuous, they’re social too. That’s according to John Bargh and Idit Shalev, researchers at Yale University, whose new research shows that physical warmth can compensate for social isolation. Indeed, their study suggests that people subconsciously self-comfort against loneliness through the use of warm baths and showers.

Among 51 undergrads, those who reported being more lonely also tended to bath or shower more often, to do so for longer and with warmer water. Overall, 33.5 per cent of the variation in these measures was accounted for by loneliness. A similar result was found for a community sample of 16 women and 25 men. Perhaps lonely people simply have more time to take baths because they go out less, but the association with preferring warmer water is harder to explain away.

Read the full piece by Christian Jarrett at BPS Research Digest here. His new book is The Rough Guide to Psychology.

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