The air is getting chilly. The drinks are tasting like pumpkin. Hocus Pocus is on repeat. Fall is here, and if you’ve already started pulling out the fluffy blankets and warm socks (even if it’s still 80 degrees in your area), there might be psychological reasons why.
Each year, fall seems to begin earlier and earlier. This year, Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte a day earlier, but even it came after Dunkin’s iteration. On Sept. 1, Freeform announced its entire lineup for its 31 Nights of Halloween movie marathon event.
But it’s not just businesses, media, and retailers. It’s likely the people around you as well. A 2020 study found that fall is Americans’ favorite season, and another poll back in 2013 found the same. A casual scroll through your social media will likely show photos of lattes, pumpkins, and early Halloween decorations. You can even Google a list of fall-themed Instagram captions if you’re running low on autumnal creative juice.
So is there a reason? LifeSavvy decided to find out. We spoke with wellness expert and psychologist Dr. Haley Perlus to get some answers on why you might be so obsessed with fall.
The short answer to this question is yes! The reasons why are a bit more complex, though.
Perlus told LifeSavvy that many of us have fond childhood memories of the season, and they have carried over into adulthood. Even your years at school could be contributing to your fall obsession.
“Although fall is not a ‘rebirth’ like spring, it comes with the start of a new school year,” said Perlus. For many, even adults no longer in school, this signals a fresh slate and a ‘new year.'”
Perlus also added that the season is responsible for bringing friends and family together after busy summers. Due to vacations, summer sports, and travel, warmer weather can mean busier and more unpredictable schedules. As school starts back, however, people return to their routines which, according to Perlus, means social groups are more easily able to gather and socialize again.
For those who already love fall, Perlus said brands and retailers launching autumnal drinks and putting out decor can be another reason people get hyped for the season.
Not only are the items limited-edition, making people excited to get their hands on them, but they can help those who love summer beat the post-summer blues. Instead of experiencing sadness at the end of one season, fall lovers can get an early dose of a new season and push down any of that sadness.
But Perlus does tell LifeSavvy that these early markers aren’t great for everyone.
“Leaves falling from the trees and pumpkin spice can signal shorter, colder days with less sunlight,” she said. “For those who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this can often lead to depression.”
The answer to this question is a bit more complicated.
On the surface, yes, the cooler temperatures do play into what we love about fall. In fact, a 2020 survey by Stuffed Puffs and One Poll found that the second most popular fall activity is feeling the first chill in the air. The change in weather goes a bit deeper than just being outside.
According to Perlus, a study was conducted in 2012 which found that coldness made people search for “psychological warmth” in their entertainment. People within the study were more drawn to romantic, cozy films that provided comfort and elicited a sense of happiness.
Perlus added that there’s a bigger push toward “nesting” or finding comfort in the home and among cozy things (kind of like the concept of hygge) as the weather cools.
“In the spring and summer when the weather is beautiful, people often feel compelled to go outside and maximize good weather,” Perlus said. “In the spring and summer when the weather is beautiful, people often feel compelled to go outside and maximize good weather. Fall subconsciously gives people ‘permission’ to let up on the reigns a bit and snuggle up with a good book or be less conscious about calorie counting.”
Now that we know brands and weather are responsible for how feelings around fall, what about holidays? According to Perlus, these are certainly responsible for many people’s love of the season.
Like we mentioned before, childhood memories can contribute to your fall obsession, and Perlus said these “unconscious associations with specific times in our lives” make us happy when we remember them. They can often revolve around holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.
“Holidays can have you feeling nostalgic, which can play a role in people’s excitement for the upcoming months,” said Perlus. “Halloween and Thanksgiving are non-denominational holidays, so all people are able to enjoy the festivities if they choose.”
While sure, there might be some people who take their love of fall to the next level, for the most part, your love of fall is completely normal. Whether you have warm childhood memories of certain holidays or love a good “nesting” season, fall isn’t just pumpkin spice lattes. It’s a season that brings people together and gives us a nostalgic boost.