Monday 29 May 2017

Fed up of Ireland's constantly changing weather? It may actually be good for you

Members of the public brave the bad weather in Dublin's city centre. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public brave the bad weather in Dublin's city centre. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

As the rain continues for most of this week, it’s good news for Ireland as a new study shows that changing weather makes people less violent and aggressive.

Hot weather is often linked with aggression but a new study shows that weather variation also affects behaviour.

The new study CLASH (Climate Aggression, and Self-control in Humans) suggests that a hot climate combined with less variation in seasonal temperatures can lead to a faster life strategy, less focus on the future and less self-control, all of which contribute to aggression and violence.

“We see evidence of a faster life strategy in hotter climates with less temperature variation — they are less strict about time, they have less use of birth control, they have children earlier and more often,” said Dr. Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

The study states that countries with constant warm spells are “irritated” and are outdoors interacting with people so “naturally run into more opportunities for conflict”.

The study also suggests that it’s not just hotter temperatures that lead to violence but also climates that have less seasonal variation in temperature.

Co-author Maria Rinderu, of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, said: “Less variation in temperature, combined with heat, brings some measure of consistency to daily life.”

She said this means there is less necessity to plan for large swings between warm and cold weather. People in consistently hot countries have a “faster life strategy” that is more concerned about the present than the future, and has less need for self control.

Researcher Paul Van Lange said variation in temperature means that people have to plan and prepare more, leaving less time for conflict.

“Planning in agriculture, hoarding, or simply preparing for cold winters shapes the culture in many ways, often with people not even noticing it,” he said.

“If there is less variation, you’re freer to do what you want now, because you’re not preparing foods or chopping firewood or making winter clothes to get you through the winter.

“You also may be more concerned with the immediate stress that comes along with parasites and other risks of hot climates, such as venomous animals.”

So while Met Eireann predicts it will be a blustery wet week with varied temperatures, at least it's good for our health.

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