Summer Heat, Sour Mood?

You would think that most people would be in a rather amiable mood during the summer months. Unfortunately, you may have found that not to be the case, especially when temperatures soar towards the triple digits. A recent study has determined that such observations might be more common than you might think.

A Simmering Problem

Conducted by a team from Northwestern University, this report consisted of three separate sections. The first part analyzed data from a Russian retail chain, with the goal of determining how employees reacted in response to hot weather. They found that such workers were adversely affected by the summer sun, being half as likely to listen to or assist customers compared to more mild conditions.

The second part of the survey featured a survey distributed to paid respondents. Half of those taking the survey were asked to remember a time when they experienced hot weather. Each participant was later asked to take a follow-up survey; however, this second survey would not involve any monetary compensation.

The query about high temperatures seems to have made the respondents less charitable; roughly a third of those asked this question agreed to take a second survey without pay. In contrast, this figure stood at 74 percent for subjects who did not see this question.

Questions and Answers

The third and final portion of the study likewise involved a questionnaire, though in this case the study authors split the participants into two rooms; one room was cool, with the other was notably hot.

Once again, exposure to heat made the volunteers less cooperative; less than two-thirds (64 percent) of subjects in the hot room completed the survey. Conversely, 95 percent of participants in the much more comfortable cool room agreed to answer the study authors’ questions. Furthermore, the researchers noted that people in the cool room provided far more useful and informative answers.

The Northwestern team published their work in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

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