The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Body and Soul - - HEALTH -

other areas of your life – one US study found that peo­ple gave more gen­er­ous tips on sunny days, while a French study dis­cov­ered women were more re­cep­tive to flir­ta­tious ad­vances when the sun was shin­ing.

Again, Haslam cau­tions th­ese are not sim­ple cause-ef­fect sce­nar­ios: “The sunny sea­son is of­ten the time peo­ple take va­ca­tions, so that could be a rea­son they’re more re­laxed.” of vi­o­lence and ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour. “Ex­treme heat leads to in­creased ag­gres­sion, in­stances of rape, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, ri­ots and ir­ri­ta­tion,” ac­cord­ing to Dr Susie Burke, a se­nior psy­chol­o­gist at the Aus­tralian Psy­cho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety.

This is a con­cern­ing rev­e­la­tion see­ing as the world is ex­pected to get even hot­ter in the com­ing decades due to global warm­ing.

A sig­nif­i­cant anal­y­sis car­ried out at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley found that ex­treme heat as well as ex­treme rain­fall in­creased the in­ci­dences of con­flict – both in­ter­per­sonal, as in per­son-on-per­son vi­o­lence, and in­ter­group con­flict, as in ri­ots and wars.

Again, the ex­perts have put for­ward dif­fer­ent ex­pla­na­tions for why this could be.

One the­ory sug­gests that ag­gres­sion is brought on by the in­creased phys­i­cal stress on the body and dis­com­fort. An­other is that be­cause more peo­ple are out and about on warmer days, there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties for crimes to oc­cur.

Burke adds peo­ple with men­tal-health is­sues are par­tic­u­larly at risk in the heat: “Peo­ple with men­tal-health prob­lems may be vul­ner­a­ble as some psy­chi­atric med­i­ca­tions are less ef­fec­tive in ex­treme heat and some im­pair the body’s abil­ity to sweat and the per­son can’t cool down.”

If the rain is too heavy, your ir­ri­tabil­ity could in­crease, Burke adds. “Ex­treme rain­fall can also lead to in­creased ag­gres­sion be­cause peo­ple may feel their sense of well­be­ing is miss­ing.” “Droughts and floods – both caused by ex­treme weather con­di­tions – in­crease peo­ple’s phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal stress. This is due to loss of in­come as well as break­down of so­cial struc­tures,” says Berry.

Burke adds that while such events can re­sult in men­tal strain, such events can also strengthen so­cial bonds.

“Ex­treme weather dis­as­ters are of­ten chaotic and fo­cused on sur­vival at im­pact, but af­ter a few days, dis­as­ter ex­perts note there’s a re­bound or hon­ey­moon phase, which is char­ac­terised by great sol­i­dar­ity, co-op­er­a­tion, good­will and help,” says Burke.

“There can be a great sense of ‘we’re all in this to­gether’. Strangers come to­gether to help each other and com­mu­nity spirit strength­ens.”

So whether the sun is shin­ing bright or clouds are block­ing its rays, your mood will be af­fected – for bet­ter or worse.

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