Warm Water and Loneliness Again?!?!

Call me Captain Ahab…

This is a dead horse but I got around to writing up some  useful new data in this saga.  Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin tried to replicate the basic survey findings in a large Introductory Psychology course back in the Fall of 2013.  They emailed me the results back in November and they were consistent with the general null effects we had been getting in our work.  I asked them if I could write it up for the Psychology File Drawer and they were amenable.  Here is a link to a more complete description of the results and here is a link to the PFD reference.

The basic details…

There was no evidence for an association between loneliness (M = 2.56; SD = .80, alpha = .85) and the Physical Warmth Index (r = -.03, p = .535, n = 365; 95% CI = -.14 to .07).  Moreover, the hypothesis relevant correlation between the water temperature item and the loneliness scale was not statistically distinguishable from zero (r = -.08, p = .141, n = 365, 95% CI = -.18 to .03).

One possible issue is that the U of T crew used a short 3 item measure of loneliness developed for large scale survey work whereas the other studies have used longer measures.  Fortunately, other research suggests this short measure is correlated above .80 with the parent instrument so I do not think this is a major limitation. But I can see others holding a different view.

One of the reviewers of the Emotion paper seemed concerned about our motivations.  The nice thing about these data is that we had nothing to do with the data collection so this criticism is not terribly valid.  Other parties can try this study too — the U of T folks figured a way to study this issue with 6 items!

 

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Author: mbdonnellan

Professor Social and Personality Psychology Texas A &M University

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