Last week the air conditioning wasn’t functioning properly and neither did my patience:
with summer heat comes an increase in aggression.
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.
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!
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?
Sources: Header Image