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Why You're Never Too Old For Your Teddy

11/10/2010 10:54 | Updated 22 May 2015

Do you still have your old childhood cuddly toys? Perhaps you still sleep with your favourite teddy bear. Well sometimes, anyway. But it's not a sign you haven't grown up, say psychologists.

MorgueFile, Alvimann

If you've developed an unbreakable bond with an old stuffed toy or some other object from your past, part of the reason may be that it makes you feel nostalgic. But according to experts from the University of Bristol, there's a deeper emotional attachment involved too. And that's all down to something the researchers call essentialism.

In tests, volunteers were asked to bring a photo of a item that meant a lot to them. Each volunteer was hooked up to equipment that measured their galvanic skin response - that is, measurements of tiny changes in the amount of sweat they produced - then asked to cut up the photo of their cherished item.

Published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture, the study explains how the volunteers produced more sweat while destroying their photos, which suggests they were experiencing emotional distress. The reason that happens, say the researchers, is that some objects mean more to us than just their physical properties. And that's the idea behind the concept of essentialism. The same thing might apply to a wedding ring, for instance. It may just be a piece of metal, but to the wearer it symbolises so much more.

Meanwhile nobody really knows how many adults are deeply attached to their old teddy bears. But according to a survey by Travelodge hotels, 35% of us say we still sleep with a cuddly toy.

So go on, admit it. Do you?

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