A Pilot Study Examining Physical and Social Warmth: Higher (Non-Febrile) Oral Temperature Is Associated with Greater Feelings of Social Connection.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0156873
An emerging literature suggests that experiences of physical warmth contribute to social warmth-the experience of feeling connected to others. Thus, thermoregulatory systems, which help maintain our relatively warm internal body temperatures, may also support feelings of social connection. However, the association between internal body temperature and feelings of connection has not been examined. Furthermore, the origins of the link between physical and social warmth, via learning during early experiences with a caregiver or via innate, co-evolved mechanisms, remain unclear. The current study examined the relationship between oral temperature and feelings of social connection as well as whether early caregiver experiences moderated this relationship. Extending the existing literature, higher oral temperature readings were associated with greater feelings of social connection. Moreover, early caregiver experiences did not moderate this association, suggesting that the physical-social warmth overlap may not be altered by early social experience. Results provide additional support for the link between experiences of physical warmth and social warmth and add to existing theories that highlight social connection as a basic need on its own.