Research notes: the pursuit of comfort

Topic: the human search (drive, desire) for comfort.

Starting points

  • Comfort-seeking behavior in humans
  • Comfort as a motivation
  • Comfort as related to fear: fear as enabler for survival, then security, then to comfort. How do those things all relate to one another? Diverge from one another?
  • The effect of comfort-seeking
  • Comfort-seeking vs. risk-seeking — is that really a true dichotomy? Because for some people, maybe risk is comfort.
  • What is the true nature of comfort? What makes us feel comfortable? Is feeling comfortable really about feeling secure or is there more to it? Is it familiarity, reward, stimulation? Something else? Some combination?
  • The human ability to adapt and ‘find comfort’ in even hideous circumstances
  • Comfort vs. growth? OR is it comfort vs. change? (If the real basis of comfort for most of us is familiarity, then change = going into new territory = opposite of familiarity = loss of comfort.) Could that be why so many of us instinctively hold onto traditions and situations that are not healthy or good but are familiar? Maybe developing methods of bringing the comfort of what is familiar along with us could help us reach toward change without fear or at least with less fear and less discomfort.
  • Hmmm.

Subjective Well-Being and Social Production FunctionsAbstract

SPF theory identifies two ultimate goals that all humans seek to optimize (physical well-being and social well-being) and five instrumental goals by which they are achieved (stimulation, comfort, status, behavioural confirmation, affection). The core notion of SPF theory is that people choose and substitute instrumental goals so as to optimize the production of their well-being, subject to constraints in available means of production.

The phenomenology of comfort | Abstract

The process of achieving comfort is based on the patients’ needs to live with illness or injury without being dominated by their bodies The authors argue that while the role of nursing is to provide comfort to the sick, the goal of total comfort is unattainable in patient care However, if the goal is to enhance comfort, to ease and to relieve distress, comfort remains central to the role of nursing.

Chicken Soup Really Is Good for the Soul: “Comfort Food” Fulfills the Need to Belong | Abstract

Experiment 1 found that the consumption of comfort foods automatically activates relationship-related concepts. Experiment 2 found that comfort foods buffer against belongingness threats in people who already have positive associations with relationships (i.e., are secure in attachment style).

The Safety of Objects: Materialism, Existential Insecurity, and Brand Connection | Abstract

 We ground our conceptualization in terror management theory and suggest that materialistic individuals form strong connections to their brands as a response to existential insecurity. We test this premise by conducting a national survey among 314 adults as well as an experiment among 125 college students. Our results provide broad support for our thesis and suggest that the fear of death encourages materialistic individuals to form strong connections with their brands.

I love my Sharpie pens, Leuchtturm notebooks, Yeti mug, Lush hair conditioner, MAC eyeliner, and Don Q rum because I’m afraid to die.

A Possible Connection Between Thermal Comfort and Health | Article | PDF

So people often intentionally make themselves thermally uncomfortable yet the entire foundation of providing the thermal environment in our buildings is done to minimize the percentage of people thermally dissatisfied. We must provide an environment that does not negatively impact short-term health and we need to consider productivity but are our current thermal comfort standards too narrowly defined and do these standards actually contribute to longer-term negative health impacts? This paper examines the possibility that the human body thermoregulatory system has a corollary relationship to the cardiovascular system. It explores the possibility that we have an inherent need to exercise our thermoregulatory system. Potential, physiological, sociological and energy ramifications of these possibilities are discussed.

So too much comfort could have a negative effect on health? Also, I love the term “thermally dissatisfied” and am going to use it from now on in our household arguments discussions about setting the thermostat. “I’m thermally dissatisfied, damnit! Turn the AC down!”

Outdoor thermal comfort | Article

Beyond acclimatization and behavioral adaptation, through adjustments in clothing and changes to the metabolic heat, psychological adaptation plays a critical role to ensure thermal comfort and satisfaction with the outdoor environment. Such parameters include recent experiences and expectations; personal choice and perceived control, more important than whether that control is actually exercised; and the need for positive environmental stimulation suggesting that thermal neutrality is not a pre-requisite for thermal comfort.

Perceived control. That’s probably an important factors in many other instances of comfort pursuit.

The homeostatic and Comfort Perceptual Systems | Abstract

Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of Harmony: Culture, Relationships, and Social Support Seeking | Abstract

This research examined whether people from collectivistic cultures are less likely to seek social support than are people from individualistic cultures because they are more cautious about potentially disturbing their social network.

Where is the comfort in comfort foods? Mechanisms linking fat signaling, reward, and emotion | Abstract

This review paper aims to give an overview of current knowledge on the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the link between (fatty) foods, their reward value, and emotional responses to (anticipation of) their intake in humans.

Why Do We Need What We Need? A Terror Management Perspective on the Roots of Human Social Motivation | Abstract

This analysis specifies the relation between the self-preservation instinct and various more specific and concrete psychological motives. The three major branches of this motivational hierarchy consist of (a) direct biological motives, which are oriented toward attaining the biological necessities of life (e.g., food, air, water); (b) symbolic-defensive motives, which are oriented toward control- ling the potential for existential terror brought on by awareness of the ultimate impossibility of continued satisfaction of the self-preservation instinct; and (c) self- expansive motives, which are oriented toward the growth and expansion of the individual’s competencies and internal representations of reality.

Comfort Theory and Practice: A Vision for Holistic Health Care and Research | Amazon

This book places comfort at the forefront of nursing care, by presenting a carefully researched theory of comfort that nurses can use as a framework for practice. Engagingly written, the book combines a first-person account of the development of the theory with supporting research, and practical information for its application. Kolcaba analyzes the concept of comfort; describes its physical, psychospiritual, environmental and sociocultural components; evaluates its meaning in the many different contexts in which health care occurs; and describes how it can be measured.

Comfort: A review of philosophies and paradigms | PDF

Meanings of comfort have changed dramatically over the last century, with considerable implications for indoor environmental management and energy demand. The purpose of this literature review is to explore the scientific and philosophical assumptions on which various definitions of comfort are based and consider how these have framed debates about the construction and management of indoor conditions.

The relationship between psychological comfort space and self-esteem in people with mental disorders | PDF

The purpose of this study was to demonstrate a causal model of the sense of having psychological comfortable space that is call ‘ibasho’ in Japanese and self-esteem in people with mental disorders who had difficulty in social activities. …The path coefficient from the sense of having comfortable space to self-esteem was significant (0.80).


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