Professor Christopher Dana Lynn, who is a ‘psychobiocultural’ investigator in the Department of Anthropology, at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, US, has performed what might be one of the only studies to have scientifically investigated the relaxing effects of sitting around a campfire. Although his findings confirm that “hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multisensory, absorptive, and social experience”, he has also identified a previously undiscovered factor – the crackling is non-trivial.
“In the course of three studies with varying sensory conditions, I found significant reductions in blood pressure associated with fire with a naturalistic auditory component, confirming commonly perceived relaxation effects of hearth and campfires. However, lack of significant relaxation effects when subjects watch a flickering fire but are deprived of its sound indicate the influence of fire is not a visual ‘trance-inducing’ effect alone.”
See: Hearth and campfire influences on arterial blood pressure: Defraying the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation in: Evolutionary Psychology 12(5): 983-1003