The Surprising Science Behind Why We Love Fall

Ah, fall. Summer comes to a close and it feels as though the entire world around you changes. The temperature drop leaves change colors, children go back to school and stores begin preparing for the upcoming holidays. For many people, this transition is the beginning of the best part of the year. As you’ve probably noticed, the excitement that surrounds the season is approached unlike any other. Come mid-August all across social media, television and your local shopping center, you’re likely to see people cooing over cozy sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes, apple picking, and Halloween costume ideas. So why is it we’re so obsessed with this three-month period? Here we’re taking a look beyond the surface level of what it is that makes us fall in love with fall.

A 2013 survey shows that fall is the most preferred season, with 29% of Americans reporting they prefer an autumnal climate. At first thought, the reasoning behind this may be the cool and cozy lifestyle that fall brings along or the sense of a fresh start that comes with a new school year. These feelings are certainly part of what makes fall so appealing to so many of us, along with a few others.

It Sparks Motivation

Whether you’re going back to school or not, the emotions that a new school year elicit will likely stick with you as a mental landmark of a new beginning. Researchers refer to these dates as “temporal landmarks,” or dates that have a significance distinguishable from ordinary days and structure people’s perception of past and future. Back-to-school time, football season, Halloween and Thanksgiving all likely hold a place in your memory as a temporal landmark, which can, in turn, improve your feelings of motivation. The start of the new season, and the many changes that come with it, create the sense of a fresh start, and as studies show, that feeling may contribute to aspirational behavior. Come fall, because of your memory’s recollection of the season, many of us likely reassume these harbored feelings and enjoy the “pep in our step” fall brings.

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You’re more clear-headed

The summer months are often carried out at a slower pace, hazy from the heat and spent with more vacation and relaxation time. This is all wonderful and is part of what makes summer great, however, it can also lead to what’s known as summer depression. For some, the high expectations of the summer months along with the drastically-changing seasonal temperatures and heightened sun exposure can contribute to a debilitating case of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This condition can leave you feeling depressed and anxious if not properly treated. For those suffering summertime sadness, the fall brings with it a great sense of relief. Additionally, research has shown that warm weather can negatively impact decision-making abilities. As the cooler weather approaches, our minds regain peak cognitive abilities.

It’s comforting

The coziness of the first cool autumn breeze and the excitement for warm dishes and pumpkin-spiced beverages you feel as fall approaches are not just in your head. There is, in fact, scientific backing to these feelings, as many of us inherently view fall as a comforting time of year. The Scandinavian concept of hygge living builds off this autumnal feeling of coziness; it’s based on the association of happiness and well-being with a cozy lifestyle. The change in weather, wardrobe, and environment that come with fall bring with it the alteration in lifestyle those who enjoy fall prefer. Think cozy bonfire rather than high-speed boat ride.

Your birthdate

Alike to horoscope astrology, studies show the month you’re born in can have an impact on your personality, and therefore preferences. Dr. Scott Haltzman speaks on this theory and explains the qualities people who prefer fall tend to possess. Haltzman claims those who most enjoy fall are generally risk-takers, as the inconsistency of fall’s temperatures and colors appeal to those who like change. Even the colors we choose to wear may be impacted by our preferred season. As Dr. Haltzman states, in his clinical experience, individuals who wear bright colors or die their hair uncommon shades often favor fall.

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Cultural practices

The culture you grew up in can have a significant impact on how you associate different aspects of your life. Fall is a prime example of this concept. As sociology professor Kathryn Lively explains, our love for the season is a social construct that begins when we’re children. For 18 years, we welcome fall with the same association; a time for new clothes, new school supplies and seeing friends. As we grow up, Lively states, we continue to respond to this pattern of excitement the season brings.

So now, as we move into mid-September, fall is officially underway. As you excitedly break out your favorite flannels and pumpkin decor, you can do so in confidence knowing that you’re not alone and are, in fact, scientifically driven to do so!

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