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621: Hot or Cold

Do you prefer heat or cold? Why?


Full episode script

Without question, study after study, weather impacts human behavior. From the very slow-and-steady change of genetic expression over generations in particular climates to the individual momentary changes that heat and cold causes, the impact is varied.

 

But the weather and your genetic adaptation — or lack thereof — may not be the only thing that impacts your ability to deal with or prefer temperatures.

 

Researchers at the University of Arizona have been particularly interested in this topic, and not only because Arizona has high average temperatures. Among other findings, they’ve discovered that individuals experiencing mental illness tend to have a much lower tolerance for extreme temperatures. They’ve found some success treating those with depression with high temperatures, but those are initial studies.

 

Of course, these are also very controlled studies– which are scientifically awesome, and also smaller. When you start looking at very large datasets, it becomes a story with more depth.

 

As weather.com explained, quote:

PhD candidate Patrick Baylis at the University of California, Berkeley has been cataloging a billion tweets across 2014 and 2015, based on whether positive or negative words were used, Baylis linked temperature extremes to lower levels of happiness overall.

 

Compared with a day when the high temperature is 72.5 degrees, a day with a high temperature of 90 degrees makes the typical person experience a drop in happiness similar to the drop in happiness between Sunday and Monday.

 

On a larger scale, heat has long been linked with spikes in violence; it’s one reason why violent crime rates in major cities can spike on hot holiday weekends. It’s also why some scientists have predicted a global rise in violence as global temperatures increase due to climate change.

 

Then again, the weather you experience may or may not be linked at all to the weather in the climate you live. Air conditioning and central heating are becoming increasingly common, after all, and people tend to spend a lot of time indoors — especially in extreme climates.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.