Psychology is nothing if not an inexact science. Two pieces of research this week confirmed this.
The first provided data that suggested that people who take long, hot showers tend to be lonelier than those who don’t. This according to a Yale researcher with a lot of spare time on his hands and a PHD to boot. Dr. John Bargh concluded that the hot shower was a substitute for physical warmth.
Conversely it has been found that a cold shower can help fight depression, among other things.
Secondly, a professor at the University of Massachusetts found that highly motivated sports fans had fewer bouts of depression and higher self-esteem than non sports fans. The study did not focus on the drunken idiots that populate the fringes of the Ralph Wilson Stadium parking lots on game day, who create opportunities for any number of studies on human behavior patterns.
Nevertheless, Susan Krauss Whitmore, quoted in the New York Times, grew up a Buffalo Bills fan. She has since switched allegiances to the more successful New England Patriots, claiming that, according to the Times, “It’s more fun to win. I like being happy.”
Actually Whitmore’s theory is nothing new. There is a line in the 2005 film ‘Fever Pitch,’ where the lead character, Ben Wrightman played by Jimmy Fallon, explains his passion for the Boston Red Sox, which is extreme to say the least. “I like being part of something that’s bigger than me,” he says. “It’s good for your soul to invest in something you can’t control.”
Sports fans do that all the time. I root harder against the New York Yankees than I do for the team I grew up with, the Boston Red Sox. A great day for me is when the Yankees play an afternoon game and lose.
It’s just the opposite when they win. It got to the point that a working colleague once asked me, “Why do you put yourself through that?” I didn’t have an answer.
It was equally as perplexing when the Red Sox actually won the World Series in 2004. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know how to feel. There was no proper way to celebrate the actual end to that particular journey. I didn’t know who to call first, so I called no one.
Where does all that leave us? If, as Ben says, it is good for the soul to invest in something you can’t control, it’s mostly because you have no real responsibility toward producing the desired outcome. No pressure. You’re just along for the ride. And as often as not, a long hot shower.