We just submitted a new version of our Human Penguin Project, and the preprint we made available immediately (for free) on PsyArxiv. Article can be downloaded here and abstract available below.
Social ties in general, but having a wider variety of social ties (i.e., complex social integration) specifically, have been shown to create important physical and mental benefits and thus belong to highly important determinants of life chances. A novel, but hotly debated, approach to identifying drivers of complex social integration comes from social thermoregulation theory. The theory is derived from homeothermic animals other than humans and pertains to the idea that modern human relationships are pleisiomorphically organized around body temperature regulation. In two studies (a pilot study and a study covering twelve countries) we first identify major drivers of core body temperature through powerful exploratory methods. After identifying complex social integration as one of the key predictors of core body temperature, we identify a path model through a split-half cross-validation method that shows that colder climates relate to higher levels of complex social integration, while such complex social integration in turn relates to higher core body temperatures. We infer that – despite modern conveniences like clothing and heating – people still rely on social warmth to buffer their bodies against the cold. Our studies do not only contribute to a deeper understanding of social network formation, but also provide direction for how social relations contribute to health and well-being.