The need for social connections is one of the basics amongst humans, irrespective of whether we acknowledge it or not. We usually tend to fulfill this need by spending some face-to-face time with our friends. But there are other ways to recharge our batteries which are just as acceptable, even if they are commonly termed as guilty pleasures, says a new study.
The sense of belonging fulfills something within ourselves that the study chooses to call a sociometer or our social fuel tank. We usually recognize and associate this fulfillment with social support and connections such as meeting friends or spending time with family. The study presents the option of non-traditional methods, or what we now commonly refer to as ‘guilty pleasures’, as acceptable and effective methods for such fulfillment.
This refers to activities like enjoying your favorite pizza, re-watching an old favorite, binge-watching a cheesy show or sitting through movie marathons, reading an engaging thriller or romance, or anything that tickles your fancy and makes you feel better and happier. The study puts forth these joy-bringing activities as acceptable and effective ways of fulfilling the need for social connections.
“People can feel connected through all sorts of means. We found that more traditional strategies, like spending time with a friend in person, doesn’t necessarily work better for people than non-traditional strategies, like listening to a favorite musician,” says Elaine Paravati, a University of Buffalo graduate and co-author of the paper. “In fact, using a combination of both of these types of strategies predicted the best outcomes, so it might be especially helpful to have a variety of things you do in your life to help you feel connected to others.”
The authors also note that if people who do not opt for traditional ways of social fulfillment can certainly look at these non-traditional options, and that could be helping them. Moreover, these findings are especially relevant in times of pandemics when physical distancing and isolation from modes of social connections is a worldwide norm. Indulging in some innocent guilty pleasures may turn out to be helpful.
The results of this study have been published in Self and Identity journal.