Do hot climates really spawn violence? Some rates of violent crimes are disproportionately higher in places near the equator than others, so scientists developed a new model to help better explain why.
The combination of a hot climate and less variation in their seasonal temperatures result in faster life strategy as well as less focus on tomorrow and less self-control — all of which contribute to increased violence and aggression, according to researchers.
The team developed the new model called Climate Aggression, and Self-control in Humans (CLASH), saying it can help account for differences in aggression and violence within and between nations around the world.
There are two prevailing explanations for higher rates of violence in places with hotter climates. The General Aggression Model suggests that heat makes people irritated and uncomfortable, influencing them to become more aggressive. This, however, does not explain murder and worse acts.
The Routine Activity Theory, on the other hand, points out that people stay outdoors and foster greater interactions with warm weather, leading to greater chances of conflict setting in. But why is there possibly more violence once the temperature hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit, than when it’s at 75 degrees Fahrenheit despite people staying outside on both occasions?
According to the new proposed model, it’s not just higher temperatures that result in more violence, but also less seasonal variation in temperature.
“Less variation in temperature, combined with heat, brings some measure of consistency to daily life,” said study author Maria Rinderu from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
This translates to less need for planning major transitions from warm to cold weather and vice-versa, and then a fleeting life strategy that is not too preoccupied with the future, as well as requires less self-control.
Extreme seasonal temperature variation, for example, can be highly influential on culture: one hoards food and prepares for winter, for instance, often without even noticing it.
With less variation there is greater freedom to do as one pleases — no need to rush preparing food or chopping firewood to survive the winter, explained lead author Paul van Lange.
Thus, people residing in hotter climates with less drastic temperature changes are more present-oriented than involved in the future, doing things in the now and tending to more quickly react with aggressive and sometimes violent behavior. Other indicators include less strictness with time, less contraception and earlier childbearing ages, the authors noted.
Climate, van Lange said, does not make a person yet can shape the culture in many ways possible. The findings were detailed in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
One’s environment is believed to play a crucial role in health and wellness. A separate study, for instance, reported that living in places filled with greenery may lower one’s risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
Covering 250,000 individuals ages 65 and above, the study found that plenty of greenery surrounding the house translated to a 10 percent lower risk for lipid conditions, 13 percent less likelihood of hypertension and 14 percent lower risk for chronic illnesses.
Photo: Jason Thien | Flickr