How Weather Shapes Our Personality

We know that weather can affect our mood. A beautiful warm summer day can bring a smile to our face, while a cold and dark winder day can make us feel blue. However, a new study lead by Wengi Wei and published in Nature demonstrates that weather can affect more than just mood it can in part shape our personality.

Many things play a role in shaping who we are; family, friends, work, society, culture, but the authors assert that in addition to these variables the local weather temperature is equally important. The climate we live, and especially grew up in, in part shapes who we become.

The authors of the research paper test their hypothesis by looking at the average temperature where an individual grew up and comparing this to a validated personality score. There are hundreds of unique personalities to describe people, but these can largely be captured by five broad dimensions referred to as The Big Five: agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness to experience.

Using a representative sample of the US population down to the zip-code level and controlling for age, social class, education levels, the authors found that in fact growing up in temperatures that are closer to 72 degrees tend to ‘create’ people who are more agreeable, conscientiousness, emotionally stable, extroverted and open.

What explains this relationship? The authors hypothesize that the nicer it is outside, the more likely we are to go outside and play with friends when we’re kids. As they assert, “Clement (that is, mild) temperatures encourage individuals to explore the outside environment, where both social interactions and new experiences abound; by contrast, when the ambient temperature is either too hot or too cold, individuals are less likely to go outside (to meet up with friends, or to try new activities).”

The study, Regional ambient temperature is associated with human personality, was co-authored by Jackson G. Lu, Adam D. Galinsky, Han Wu, Samuel D. Gosling, Peter J. Rentfrow, Wenjie Yuan, Qi Zhang, Yongyu Guo, Ming Zhang, Wenjing Gui, Xiao-Yi Guo, Jeff Potter, Jian Wang, Bingtan Li, Xiaojie Li, Yang-Mei Han, Meizhen Lv, Xiang-Qing Guo, Yera Choe, Weipeng Lin, Kun Yu, Qiyu Bai, Zhe Shang, Ying Han & Lei Wang.

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