If the members of your household complain about you hanging up Christmas lights before Thanksgiving, know that your behavior is justified by science. Research from 1989 found that people who decorate their homes for the holidays tend to appear friendlier to their neighbors, ABC 27 reports.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, asked participants to rate the friendliness of strangers based on photographs of their homes. The homeowners had assessed their own sociability by reporting their social contact with neighbors as being either low or high.
When the houses in the pictures weren't decorated, the raters were pretty good at guessing whether the family who lived inside was sociable or not. The homes of friendly people had a more "open" and "lived in" look, according to the participants.
Something interesting happened when they saw homes that were decorated for the holidays. The lights and wreaths inspired participants to give the less-friendly households a higher sociability ranking.
The study authors say their findings highlight the social symbolism of Christmas decorations. When a home puts an inflatable snowman outside at the same time as their neighbors, they're taking part in a larger community event. And if you haven't gotten around to introducing yourself to your neighbors in person, decorating for the holidays is an easy way to appear more sociable than you are.
There are many scientific advantages to decorating your home the moment a festive mood strikes you. Psychologists say that people who put holiday decorations up early feel happier—though you may have to wait for the frustration of tangled lights and broken ornaments to wear off to reap the benefits.
[h/t ABC 27]