Does the weather affect your mood?

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  • Tiffany enjoying the sunshine last year. Photo: Ian Nicholson (PA Archive)

    A group of women enjoying the sunshine at London's South Bank in 2010. Photo: Clive Gee (PA Archive)

    Rain affecting showers in London in January. Photo: Sean Dempsey (PA Wire)

    Wind and rain battering tourists in Co. Antrim. Photo: Paul Faith (PA Wire)

  • Does the weather affect your mood?
    02.03.2013 13:07

     

    Most of us think that the weather has quite a strong effect on our mood with cold and gloomy winter’s days making us feel low and warm and sunny days making us feel happy. However, is this actually true? A lot of research says no, there is no significant difference because everyone’s personalities are different, but then why do we think it?

    In 2008 a group of German researchers (Denissen et al) studied the effects of temperature, wind power, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure and photoperiod on 1,233 participants, most of which were women. They found that although sunlight had an effect on tiredness there were no definite relationships between weather and mood due to each individuals own sensitivity to weather. Similar research by Keller et al. (2005) found that some participant’s mood was positively associated with air temperature in spring, but there was no consistent effect of weather on the mood. In addition to this, Watson (2000) found no conclusive evidence, but did suggest that on days with 0% or 100% sunshine the participant’s awareness of their mood was more intense. 

    The main reason why these studies were not conclusive was because of the participants own personality traits. Klimstra et al. (2011) noticed this and looked for different types of personality and how each one is affected by the weather. From his study he found 4 distinct groups:

    Unaffected – roughly 50% of the participant’s moods are not affected by the weather.

    Summer lovers – mood improves with less rain, more sun and higher temperatures (this also coincides with Seasonal Affected Disorder - SAD).

    Summer haters – people who are happier when there’s more rain, less sun and lower temperatures (they often get overlooked).

    Rain haters – mood is not affected by a change in temperature or sunshine, but the participants just felt less positive when it was raining.

    This research suggests that because we are all different, many of us are affected by the weather just in different ways. 

    This is also supported by looking at other weather parameters. Howard and Hoffman (1984) found that for most people, humidity increased the reports of sleepiness in many participants and the number of hours of sunshine was related to how optimistic people felt. Keller et al. (2005) also found a similar conclusion with pleasant weather leading to a happier mood and better memory, which is consistent with findings related to SAD. However, the small sample sizes for both of these studies reduce the validity of the findings. 

    So really it depends on your own personality as to whether your mood will be affected by the weather outside your window. If like me though, you feel better when the sun is shining and you don’t have to put lots of layers on, you can look forward to Tuesday when the UK will see a glimpse of spring! Although don’t expect it to last to long…this is the UK we live in after all. 

    By: Sally Webb