Throwback “GTFO: A Word on the Hot-Tempered”: Summer Heat Increases Aggression

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heat-aggression-bird

Last week the air conditioning wasn’t functioning properly and neither did my patience:

with summer heat comes an increase in aggression.

heat-aggression-hot-and-bothered

It has since been repaired but while feeling all hot and bothered I remembered this post I published March last year.  So I figured if anyone missed it, it’s worth a read.  If you ever get really testy during bouts of heat, this article may help clarify some things:

Last week I delved into Seasonal Affective Disorder and briefly reviewed the variations between symptoms experienced in the winter versus the summer.  Most notably how during the summer, aggression tends to be prevalent among sufferers.

Several studies have made a clear connection between climate changes and aggressive acts. The clear relationship has now made it so that next year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will report global warming’s impact on war for the first time – being that extreme heat has been linked to great conflict.

A few patterns found in this study led by Solomon Hsiang are:

1) In one Psychological experiment, police officers were more likely to shoot someone in a lab simulation when room temperatures were hotter

2) Baseball pitchers were more likely to retaliate against their opponents when a teammate was hit by a pitch on hotter days

3) Even the demise of the Mayan civilization coincided with periods of historic drought

4) Farmers in Brazil are more likely to invade each others’ lands in years when it is particularly wet or dry

5) American’s honk more at others when it’s hot outside

6) Countries in the Tropics are more likely to have civil wars when it is especially hot or dry

The team of economists who conducted these reports generated a formula that can predict how much risk of different types of violence should increase with extreme weather.  In war-torn parts of Africa, every added degree Fahrenheit increases chance of conflict between groups – rebellion, war, civil unrest – by 11% to 14%  [source].

Aggressive crimes are relatively more frequent in hotter demographic regions; in the United States from 1918-1929 the highest homicide rates were in the Southern States.  Both of these studies have conducted longitudinal studies (analysis of something conducted over a long period of time) and yielded impressive support for the temperature-aggression hypothesis.  Astonishingly so, support has been found even when yearly, quarterly, seasonal, monthly, and even daily levels of analysis for a wide variety of aggressive behavior have been conducted.  Acts such as homicide, assault, and rape; have all been found to be higher during the hot summer months of June, July, and August in particular during regions of extreme heat.

The article indicates that while people feel sluggish when hot, their heart rate and other physical responses are aroused and elevated.  However, let’s remember: correlation does not imply causation.  There is still limited proof that it is these physiological reactions that evoke the behavior – we just know there is a relationship.  All of those could indicate an active Sympathetic Nervous System (what tells you to fight or flee) however, there is no conducive evidence indicating that these systems are activating the aggressive tendencies noted.  Here are a few theories on temperature and aggression [souce]:

 .:Excitation Transfer/Misattribution of Arousal:.

Arousal produced by excessive temperatures may be misattributed to anger at some provoking individual.

.:Cognitive Neoassociation Model:

Aggressive thoughts and emotions are associatively linked to a variety of aversive conditions and experiences, which can prime aggressive thoughts and related emotions even when irrational.

.:Physiological-Thermoregulatory Model:.

Proposes the concept that neural and hormonal systems involved in temperature regulation, like the Hypothalamus, are implicated in aggression.

None have been completely effective at providing solid answers, leaving many in a very inquisitive state. While the general consensus here is not that hot weather is the reason for the aggressive acts during these times, it is also not a coincidence that most aggressive acts occur during the hottest months of the year.  In particular in regions of extreme heat but also in regions of lower socioeconomic statuses, usually because they have less access to resources to help combat the heat.  While we’re used to the luxury of air conditioning and access to fans, some are not so fortunate – it is usually in these places where they will see a higher spike in aggressive acts.  So while we chuckle at the Northerners during the harsh winters at least their rates of aggressive acts during the summer months will be much lower.  As for me, being geographically in the middle, I know basic martial arts and I am blessed with air conditioning.

Even if you’re hot and bothered and can’t seem to find any solace with your aggression, do what I do: don’t get violent, just spread it! 

heat-aggression-calvin-comic

 

I promise you, it helps every time.

Does the summer heat increase your aggressive nature as well? Do you spread your anger/misery/irritation as well?

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26 Comments
  • Jen
    June 19, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    This is really interesting. Personally I find that I suffer much more during the winter months from SAD, but I do live in the northeast and quite close to the ocean and lots of other bodies of water. I’ll have to take note this summer of how the heat makes me feel, but it will have to wait because today it’s breezy and beautiful.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 8:35 AM

      Happy to hear that you found this interesting Jen! 🙂 I think living near bodies helps – At least for me, I love the water and find it so peaceful. Very tranquil – I am sure that helps you as well. Especially, since living near bodies of water cools the climate – it brings a lot of breeze and freshness that is missing on land. 🙂 Ugh take a ton of photos for me!! Thanks for stopping by Jen! I’ll stop by later today since your site is blocked on my network 🙁 -Iva

      Reply
  • Melanie
    June 19, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    Great post!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 8:35 AM

      Thanks Melanie! Have a great one -Iva

      Reply
  • Tamara
    June 19, 2015 at 7:32 PM

    That’s so interesting after all the recent news. Our a/c broke last week and still isn’t fully fixed. I’ve been..aggressive about it. Even though it hasn’t been hot here, if you can believe that. It’s been 84 twice but on non-humid days so shade and cool breezes were present.
    If it happens again during real summer, I’ll probably move to my parent’s house.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      Oh wow! Yeah I was there before the real heat hit but the temperature of our house indoors read at 82 degrees and it was driving me bonkers! Thank goodness for fans as that really helped keep us cool; in particular my son who gets hot often. I hope you get that fixed soon chicka!! Take Care lovely Tam Tam! -Iva

      Reply
  • Jen
    June 20, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Hahaha hilarious – this is so me. I relish the spring, fall, and winter months…but the summer can suck it. I hate, hate, hate the heat. Give me 60’s-70’s or give me death. I feel like this year we skipped right into the 80’s and that really pisses me off. My aggression might also have something to do with the fact that I sweat like a warthog. So sexy, right? So……HOT? RIGHT? F-you, summer.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 8:39 AM

      LOL isn’t it? I get so cranky when I’m home and hot.. Not much outside since I think I’m prepared for it but if I’m at home and it’s hours of uncomfortable stickiness, it’s going to get to me. Thank goodness for ceiling fans and plug-in fans because that’s how we survived. LOL!!! Yes I don’t think the sweating helps – Start setting up the backyard pool chick and email me once done with an invite 😉 I’ll bring the alcohol! 😛 LOL I hardly sweat but if I start to I know something is up, haha. At least I can always count on my job being super cold – it helped reset my temperature during that week. Thank you AC!! Have a great week awesome Jen! -Iva

      Reply
  • Lady Lilith
    June 20, 2015 at 11:43 PM

    Summer makes me sluggish. I do my best to take my girls out but when the humidity is high, I can see we stay out for shorter periods of time.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 8:40 AM

      Yes it does! It’s that heat – Which is strange because the cold makes me lazy too so I’m not sure where the middle is anymore. Lol. I guess the AC/heat helps to stabilize and combat and variations of energy levels that come with the varying temperature changes. Thank goodness for these modern marvels! Yes too much heat no bueno 🙂 Stay cool and have a great one Lady Lilith! -Iva

      Reply
  • Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    June 22, 2015 at 9:09 AM

    We don’t have HVAC and our window units are NOT holding up to this insane heat! It’s definitely made me a little cranky, haha

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 22, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      OH no!!! I hope you guys get central air system soon because that is the WORST! It really does make one cranky 🙁 Hope you get it set up soon lovely! Take Care Liz and thanks for stopping by! -Iva

      Reply
  • Charlotte
    June 22, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    interesting study! I can’t imagine having the energy to do really much of anything in the hot summer months, but I know that I am prone to high levels of irritability when I just can’t get comfortable. Thanks for sharing, and happy summer to you, sweet Iva!!!

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 25, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      Glad you found it interesting Charlotte! 🙂 Yes, I’m the same – too much heat really drags me out and makes me want to accomplish absolutely nothing. It’s very counter-productive. Lol. You’re welcome and have a great one Charlotte! Talk Soon -Iva

      Reply
  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri
    June 22, 2015 at 12:44 PM

    With temperatures reaching 115 degrees in the desert, I understand why aggression might rise to unprecedented levels in hotter temperatures. It is only the start of summer in AZ and I am already weary of it. 🙁

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 25, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      Yikes! 115? That’s really excessive. I hope you guys have powerful fans and AC! I can’t fathom folks without AC in those areas, heat strokes are real! Hope you and yours stay very cool during those hot summer months Rudri! Have a great one and talk soon -Iva

      Reply
  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
    June 22, 2015 at 5:32 PM

    I’m totally not surprised by this. I remember when it cleared ~95 in ATL the crime went way up. But I think I always tend to honk at people regardless of temperature. Road rage.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 25, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      Oh wow! Yes, see you know firsthand what the heat can do to people’s temperament. It’s real stuff! Lol I’m the same, I love honking at others and hope they do the same if I’m fucking up. 🙂 Have a great one Laura and thanks for stopping by! Talk Soon -Iva

      Reply
  • Noor Unnahar
    June 26, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    This report couldn’t be more true, Iva. Besides that, a heat wave had entered Karachi few weeks go and it has killed around 1000 people. I am afraid this heat has been such a horrible incident of the year/

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 29, 2015 at 5:21 PM

      Oh wow! Sorry to hear about all those people 🙁 Access to air conditioning should really be a requirement in homes and the government should impose this. The heat can be so gravely dangerous and it’s sad that people don’t have the means to protect themselves from it. I count my blessings every time I am able to turn the AC on in my home and car. I hope the summer plays nice since Ramadan has begun! Have a great one Noor and take care -Iva

      Reply
  • Shelly
    June 27, 2015 at 12:29 AM

    This explains so much. I was a miserly wench in Hawaii. It wasn’t extremely hot like in Texas, but we didn’t have central air conditioning in our home (most don’t) so it got pretty hot, humid and uncomfortable most of the time. Going upstairs between 11am to around 5pm was out of the question unless you were in the mood to enter a sauna.

    The lack of seasons proved to be not my thing either. It was like a summer Groundhog Day.

    I know, woe is me. I lived in a tropical paradise haha.

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      June 29, 2015 at 5:24 PM

      There’s no central air system in your home? Do you have air conditioning system now? You state you were in Hawaii.. where are you now? No matter where you live, heat is heat and it will bug the hell out of you regardless. Hopefully, wherever you are, there is AC and you are comfortable during these hot summer months! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by (and subscribing!) Shelly! Talk soon! -Iva

      Reply
  • Rachel G
    July 10, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    This was very interesting to read as I just finished a long walk home from market carrying our groceries on this already very sunny and hot morning. I love the tropics, and I prefer hot weather to cold weather, but even for me, I notice a few more ‘bad hair days’ in this kind of hot weather. Literally, as in, “I can’t stand to have my hair touching my neck ahhh! Braids and ponytails forever!!!” So, apparently, I take all my hot weather aggression out on my hair…

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      July 11, 2015 at 10:52 PM

      LOL! At least you’re sweet in your aggression in you only take it out on your hair. I take it out on those around me – I may be snippy to others if I’m hot and bothered.. I avoid it by ensuring my body temperature is cool but if we’re doing something outdoorsy and I EXPECT to be hot and bothered then that’s different, I usually wear appropriate clothes, ensure I wear a hat and sunglasses and bring lots of fluid to circumvent dehydration. If I’m in the office and the AC isn’t working – better believe I’m leaving the office before all hell breaks loose. LOL. 🙂 Have a great one Rachel and be nice to your hair! -Iva

      Reply
  • Chi
    July 26, 2015 at 9:29 PM

    Interesting read!! I know in the winter I’m always sleepy, but summer I know I feel sluggish. Being from Florida I never really thought about how I feel during summer because it’s hot most of the time. Now when I think about it, I do tend to feel very snippy. Chi

    Reply
    • AwesomelyOZ
      July 28, 2015 at 8:10 AM

      Glad you enjoyed this Chi! Weather affects us all, no matter whether hot or cold, the extremes of both will lead to more unpleasant, undesirable behavior. In the summer, I definitely feel sluggish and the feeling of being sticky makes me cranky. In the winter, I just conserve energy and like to be at home – it is also to have more of a cheerful disposition. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and take care Chi! -Iva

      Reply

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