[♪ INTRO] It’s chilly out, which means it’s time
to cuddle! No, I mean it. We’re in the thick of what’s known as
cuffing season. It’s the time of year when we’re more
likely to want to settle down with a romantic partner …at least for a little while. It runs from approximately October through
February for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and the phrase comes from the idea of being literally tied down or “cuffed” to a romantic
partner. Charming. Anyways, as cliche as this sounds, it does seem to be a real phenomenon. And even though I don’t want to quote that rather troubling holiday song… it turns
out that the reason cuffing season is a thing may be
because it’s cold outside. While the phrase “cuffing season” is a
gift from pop culture rather than a technical term scientists coined, there’s plenty of reason to believe it’s
a real thing. While humans don’t have what you’d typically think of as a mating season, if, when you
were growing up, it felt like everyone had birthday parties
in the summer or the first few weeks of school… well,
you weren’t wrong. And you can do the math. I was born at the end of September – thanks New Years Eve party! Also, thanks to social media, dating apps, and the Google machine, we actually have a
lot of data on when people are most couple-y. Facebook has found we’re more likely to change our relationship status to “in a
relationship” when it’s chillier, especially in late December
and mid-February. Or at least, we were in 2010 and 2011. Back when people actually cared about being
“Facebook official”… I don’t even know where that setting is. Am I in a relationship? Can someone let me know? And dating app usage also goes up in the winter. For instance, a 2015 survey of Hinge users
found that they were more interested in settling
down in the wintertime than in other seasons. So cuffing season is real. But, like, why? Evolution is probably playing a pretty big
role. Lots of animals evolved to have their offspring
in the spring and summer, when there are more resources to take care of them. But there’s also pretty good evidence that
there’s a lot going on psychologically which drives this yearning
to settle down by the fire, drink some hot cocoa, and cuddle. Like, winter is… kind of tough on us. We’re a lot more likely to be sick, and there are all those holidays to stress
over. We also produce less serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to play a role in mood regulation. And that can lead to the so-called “winter
blues,” and their clinically-diagnosable cousin, seasonal
affective disorder. But what can help us combat this stress? Why, cuddling! Cuddling and other forms of consensual social
touch release oxytocin, a hormone known to be linked to social bonding. And oxytocin causes the release of dopamine
and serotonin in key areas of the brain to help counteract
all those lousy, stressful feelings and make us feel less alone. But aside from this pretty intuitive and sensible
idea that social touch and bonding can alleviate
stress, there’s also something else that might be
at work. We might just be literally cold. You see, there are lots of studies that show
we mix up social and physical warmth, or substitute
them for each other. For example, one 2014 study found that after
watching a video where someone was ostracized, participants
were less likely to feel lonely if they were able
to touch something warm. And a study from 2012 found that warm and
fuzzy TV ads tug on our heartstrings less when we’re
warm and cozy ourselves. Another looked at people eating alone in the food courts of shopping malls. Because that’s what everyone wants while
eating slightly wilted French fries by themselves
in a mall: to be approached by a stranger running a study. Yes, I’m cold, Jeff. Let me eat this stupid wilted fry. Anyways, they found that people who were eating
with one other person estimated the temperature
to be about 2.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the people
who were eating alone. Additional experiments in the same study got
even wackier. In one, students were given warm or cool tea and then asked to suggest features for a robot-maid they were told was being developed in Japan. Totally casual. Those who got the cooler tea were more likely
to ask for more social features, like talking, or
going for walks together, or… other activities… presumably because
they yearned for emotional warmth from their robot-maid. This is all part of what’s known as social thermoregulation theory. The idea is that temperature regulation is super important to animals, and one of the
ways to warm up is to huddle close to others. So, given our already-social nature, we may
have evolved to seek out others as a way to regulate our
body temperature. And somewhere along the way, we ended up conflating physical and emotional warmth. Of course, this all could apply to platonic
social bonding. And hey, definitely don’t underestimate
platonic cuddling. We’re equal opportunity cuddlers. But there’s also reason to believe that the cold makes us want romance too. A 2012 study of 53 undergrads found that iced
tea and chilly ambient temperatures both made
viewers enjoy romance movies more. The same wasn’t true for action, comedies,
or thrillers. And people were also more likely to rent romance
movies during the coldest months, which makes our collective obsession with ridiculous Christmas
romcoms make a bit more sense. In the Northern Hemisphere. So, if you find yourself wishing you could
settle down with someone this winter, there are probably
a lot of reasons you’re feeling that way. Winter messes with our heads in all sorts
of ways. But the good news is, you’re probably not
alone. And if you’re looking for the perfect gift
for that special someone, or just want to impress everyone with your keen fashion sense, might I suggest SciShow’s Pin of the Month. It’s the lovely Mariner 9 probe on its mission
to Mars a stylish addition to any winter wardrobe. But you can only get it for a few more days! Once December hits, this baby will be gone. So if you want to get your hands on this beautiful
pin, you better head over to DFTBA.com soon! [♪ OUTRO]

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100 thoughts on “‘Tis The Season for Snuggles: The Psychology of Cuffing Season

  1. Jane, you ignorant wench… the only thing troubling about that song is how crazed your leftist atrophy is interpreting it. You are now perpetually skipped

  2. I hate to bring this up, but – there is a technical term in pathology: perivascular cuffing. Microscopic examination of brain tissues can reveal the infiltration of leukocytes into the perivascular space. This occurs in cases of viral encephalitis. In horses, it is a positive sign of EEE (or WEE), since this is the only virus producing this effect (in horses).

  3. Remember when the Eastern seaboard of Canada and the US lost power for weeks? Bunch of kids were born 9 months later…everywhere. Winter ice storm did quite a bit of damage to power lines. It got cold.

  4. In Germany, where carnival is celebrated, 9 months after you also have a lot of kids… Booze and a festival of extended liberation from society-bonds 😀

  5. So in the winter we want to be in a comfortable relationship but in the spring we see all those cute girls in skirts and we want to procreate with all of them… harsh on the relationship…

  6. Test this out: doing thing to your haur that you wanted (dying it, cuting it, etc.) gives an extra-boost of confidence and extroversion , but only if you like it

  7. Couples may settle down in winter, but don't they hook up in spring? I heard a couple of "folk observations" about sexual desire rising with outside temperature. My DMs also get weirdly active starting from March.

  8. Being almost purely visual, women covering their bodies under winter clothes do absolutely nothing for me.

    I don't even think about pursuing a partner until shorts and short sleeves weather.

  9. This totally reminds me of that one Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. "Madam, I don't need your love; I have my bandages to keep me warm."

  10. I think it is a bit of a stretch to claim that cuffing hypothesis covers ALL of northern hemisphere. It may be true for some latitudes near arctic circles but most definitely not applicable for countries at or near the tropics. Also you completely disregarded the cultural evolution which in more than a few cases counteracted the biological evolution in many human cultures and that applies for your hypothesis as well. In a nutshell, unlike your other videos, this one seems less well researched.

  11. I notice all of these studies are several years old; how well have they survived the replication crisis? I haven't heard of most of them before, but I did look into one along these lines and I would bet money it didn't hold up.

  12. Cuffing???
    To me cuffing means either of two things.
    1. Putting hand cuffs on someone.

    2. One person hitting another with their hand, as in fisticuffs, or a lion cuffing her cubs.

    Now I will watch the video and lean a new use of the word.

  13. For American men having trouble imagining how they can achieve platonic cuddling: have you tried extorting your coworker who's actually a lovably-broken rogue CIA agent?

  14. I love the evolution of Brit’s timing. Rather professional as a presenter and story teller. I look up to her, in that regard.

    All the SciShow humans are great and should do this forever and forever (not foreboding, at all…)

  15. 1.) love the new sarcasm in the video. Good for laughs
    2.) …..yea, I better not discuss that. I'll get into trouble. But there are actually two mating seasons for humans in my area, and they are gender biased too.

  16. Brit sings: "It's cold outside…"

    And my brain automatically chimes in with "There's no kind of atmosphere; I'm all alone, more or less"

  17. “It’s Cold Outside” isn’t troubling. A lot of people misunderstood the song’s meaning. It’s about a woman actually wanting to have sex and the anxiety and worry about how she’ll be perceived by society (her mother, father, aunt, the neighbors, etc.) by having premarital sex with her date. In the movie where the song originates, the song is sung in reverse with another couple where the man is asking what people will think about his date (the woman) wanting to have premarital sex and she’s the one who says “but it’s cold outside”.

    Also the infamous line of,”Say what’s in this drink?” was the subtext for her scapegoat if anybody did catch her. She can blame it on the alcohol if she had sex, so no one can judge her for her actions.

  18. I've never heard of 'cuffing season,' but it sounds more like a police brutality phenomenon than anything affectionate.

  19. Doesn't explain how those in the North tend to be less expressive and outgoing (with greater personal space) than cultures in the South (with the inverse of these factors).

  20. Anyone else notice how in this video she's like… REALLY into what she's talking about, I love all the funny moments she makes here!

  21. I've noticed this myself about a decade ago. I've noticed people hooking up more in the fall. But I also notice more break ups in the spring. So there is a flip side to this…

  22. One benefit of seasonal affliction syndrome is that it's fairly common. I hate summer, and people will not accept that, not wanting to melt or die of heat stroke pisses people off for no reason

  23. Wait, the math doesn't really add up – The "Birthday Months" are usually September and October… wouldn't that mean that uh. "intimate season" is January and February, rather than December and January?

  24. Sidenote – that song is widely misunderstood and not as troubling as we think it is, more about the guy suggesting excuses she could use to stop people getting the wrong idea about the fact that an unwed woman spent the night at a man's house

  25. I wonder how much of that is influenced by social conditioning as romance tends to be associated with "the holiday season" and of course valentine's.

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