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In the Heat of the Moment

Article #180 • Written by Daniel Lew

In the U.S., violent crime rates are consistently higher in the South than in any other part of the country. It's just a fact. When one tries to figure out why this might be occurring, a few thoughts come to mind. Perhaps the South has a more violent culture and enjoy their guns more. Maybe the South has better reason to be vigilant. Or they could just still be bitter after the US Civil War.

There is one school of thought that does not buy any of these explanations. Instead, it points towards a much simpler idea - the South is warmer than the rest of the country. Could it be that hot weather can lead people to anger easily, become violent quickly, and more readily kill each other? Supporters of the heat hypothesis think so. The heat hypothesis is a simple yet powerful idea: the more uncomfortably hot the temperature, the more likely people become aggressive.

There's a bit more to the heat hypothesis than that. It's not simply aggressive behavior that is increased, but affective aggressive behavior. Affective aggression is the sort that happens in the heat of the moment, so to speak. The primary result of affective aggression is to harm another person; other goals are secondary. For example, harming someone during a bank robbery would not be affective aggression, whereas getting into a bar room brawl after discovering a lying, dirty, cheating bastard would.

Getting back to the South, there were some pretty hot results from studies done on the temperature vs. crime rates. Initial studies between the North and South showed a positive correlation between heat and violent crime rates. Of course, there could be many other factors contributing to this effect, such as the inherent differences between cities and cultures of the two areas. Further studies were conducted not between geographic locations but over time. By studying the same cities over a few year time span, researchers were able to account for most outside factors that may come into play from geographic location. These studies show a positive correlation between violent crimes and unpleasant temperatures.

While controlling as many other factors as possible, the heat hypothesis does seem to show that violent crime rates increase with the heat. However, this is not to say that scorching weather causes all types of crime to occur more often. There was little or no correlation found between heat and occurrences of rape, robbery, or property crime. Since violence is (typically) not the primary goal of these crimes, the weather had little effect on them. Besides, it's just bad form to slap around someone from whose house you're already stealing.

There have been some smaller scale studies run as well. Laboratory tests seem to support these results, depending on the care taken in the study (some studies were not that effective since participants suspected something due to kerosene lamps being in the room). In one particularly amusing field study, an experimenter purposely stopped his car in front of green lights on days of varying temperature and recorded the number of honks he received. Besides showing that psychologists will be jerks to further their studies, this particular experiment further supported the heat hypothesis - the hotter the day, the more honks he received. However, this readiness of horn use was decreased if the car had air conditioning.

Of course, the heat hypothesis is just that - a hypothesis. It could hardly be used in a court of law as a defense - "I swear, I did not mean to kill him! It was 110 degrees that day!" Still, the implications are scary, especially with so many reports on global warming being released. It's bad enough that my ice cream will not last as long outside; now I'll have to deal with people trying to hurt me when I don't share it.

Article written by Daniel Lew, published on 11 May 2006. Daniel is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Edited by Alan Bellows. Article suggested by Nora P.

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78 Comments
PresMatt
Posted 11 May 2006 at 02:55 pm

haha, very well written and very interesting. I give it a 9.5 on the Damn Interesting Interestometer.

btw, u should really impliment an interestometer. have a little meter that goes from red, to orange, to yellow, to green for how interesting people find the article and registered users click the varying degrees of each color to signify how interesting an article is. Eh, just a thought.


Tralith
Posted 11 May 2006 at 03:28 pm

An interesting theory to be sure, but highly difficult to prove. There's such a plethora of possible outside influences that it would be near impossible to convince anyone that it is true without strong rebuke... but it still has definate merit.


needles
Posted 11 May 2006 at 03:45 pm

I know I get pretty crabby when it's hot. Interesting theory.


joe schmoe
Posted 11 May 2006 at 04:00 pm

"Still, the implications are scary, especially with so many reports on global warming being released."

Every time I start to read one of these stories I think to myself, I wonder where/when they are going to bring up global warming? Good to see I wasn't let down this time either!

Besides its not the heat its all the damn humidity!


Spike
Posted 11 May 2006 at 04:07 pm

This article was very interesting. I support this theory since I am not very nice when I am hot and everyone who knows me will agree. Being in a crowd and hot only makes it worse and shortens my patience. I would much rather be cold, you can always put on more clothes but when hot, you can only get so naked. I'm afraid that in the heat, even one of Floj's pies wouldn't help.


bobo
Posted 11 May 2006 at 04:40 pm

I'm the opposite. I'd rather be hot than cold as cold is painful yet the heat will just make you sweat.


clayton
Posted 11 May 2006 at 05:00 pm

My dad - an old-school cop from way back - always hated the summer. He said the heat made people angry and that more crime occured in the summer. I guess he was right.


white_matter
Posted 11 May 2006 at 05:07 pm

I think that this could explain why so many terrorists come from extremely unhospitible areas of the world. Ackmed is sitting in his hut in the middle of the dessert and says, "Wow, it's hot today...I think I'll blow myself up." Crazy bastards.

PresMatt said: "haha, very well written and very interesting. I give it a 9.5 on the Damn Interesting Interestometer.

btw, u should really impliment an interestometer. have a little meter that goes from red, to orange, to yellow, to green for how interesting people find the article and registered users click the varying degrees of each color to signify how interesting an article is. Eh, just a thought."

I agree. I think that a device should be fabricated that measures the degree that an article is interesting. It should have a theory of operation, schematics, the works. The big problem is what is the standard damn intreresting article? Is this one better than the jumping french man article? Are the Chyrnobl articles more interesting than the survivors of the Hirosima article?


Tynan
Posted 11 May 2006 at 05:10 pm

Wouldn't it be better to compare crime rates at different times of year in the same area? If violent crime spikes in summer (assuming winter isn't so cold you can't even go outside or somesuch) this would be a great indicator of a causative effect between temperature and violence.


Asshe
Posted 11 May 2006 at 05:20 pm

Initailly I totally agreed with this hypothesis, however then I thought of a real-life example. I live in Queensland Australia where is is hot and humid about 75-80% year round. Previous to this, I lived in Victoria Australia which is much cooler and has virtually no humidity any time.

The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.

Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid.


KeoN
Posted 11 May 2006 at 05:41 pm

Rubbish! If what this article said is true then the countries near the equator would have war often?


ynggrsshppr
Posted 11 May 2006 at 06:17 pm

Uh... Bob, why are you eyeing my ice cream cone like that?


shorty
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:17 pm

i agree with the Rubbish comment. it is rubbish. the first paragraph is completely useless. could have done much better. it's not just a "southern thang". poor study.


davida
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:23 pm

Many of you know Alan Bellows as a cool guy, even in the heat. I've been keeping Alan busy with a secret project that we are launching in various phases through June - August of this year...the hot months..dang.

I assure you, Alan has a list a mile long of improvements for DI....I'll push him for the DI meter...dang it's a hot one today, that dang el nino.


noenginepilot
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:32 pm

Interesting theory. This last week we started hitting triple digits here in Palm Springs, CA. From now until September, 100+ temps are the norm, frequently in the 110-115 range during July-Aug. I'll conduct a very-NOT scientific survey this summer and report my findings in October. Assuming of course, that I'm still alive to do so.


thinkmonkey
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:32 pm

KUDOS for your proper usage of 'affective' and 'effective' in this article!


Nastimann
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:45 pm

KeoN said: "Rubbish! If what this article said is true then the countries near the equator would have war often?"

Not necessarily. What we really need it a controlled study, where the same people are subjected to annoying stimulus at different temperatures, and record the responses. I don't think wars are really "affective" behaviors.

BTW, global warming, with a fraction of a degree change in the overall climate, is probably nowhere near enough to cause an increase in violence, except perhaps, among those arguing over global warming.


Hayley
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:51 pm

I heard about these studies a while ago. I think the idea could have a lot more science behind it than people realize. Maybe heat releases certain hormones, chemicals, etc. that are more likely to trigger violent anger.


klone
Posted 11 May 2006 at 07:53 pm

i have to say it, but rape is a violent crime, also, think about how the suicide rate is higher in places like Seattle WA and Portland OR, places that get lots of rain, and little sun during the winter months


kwiksand
Posted 11 May 2006 at 08:00 pm

Very Interesting indeed. Whilst I'm not an American (excuse my ignorance), I wanted to know if the trend was true for all southern cities/states in the USA? What I mean by this, is my outsiders point of view tells me that Texas is not the nicest of states with regards to gun laws, hick ratio, poverty and crime rate (I'm basing this mostly on media coverage of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina).

Is the violent/aggressive crime rate similar in Florida/California/Texas, in that it is higher than the Northern States, say Washington/New York etc?? I'm not having a stab at the United States, by the way, I'm merely expressing my ignorance of the demograph of the USA, and using it to question the article.

While we're on the topic, I wonder if a study has been done outside the US, maybe a general trend can be seen in a country like China where violent crime rate grows as you get closer to the equator. It would, of course, be next useless to base the study on different countries due to different laws, culture, traditions etc.

Asshe said: "Initailly I totally agreed with this hypothesis, however then I thought of a real-life example. I live in Queensland Australia where is is hot and humid about 75-80% year round. Previous to this, I lived in Victoria Australia which is much cooler and has virtually no humidity any time.

The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.

Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

I'm a Perth person here. I'd be inclined to think that the difference in road rage is due to population concentration, and how it affects traffic levels. I'm not sure what area's you're living in, but if its the capitals (Melbourne ~3 - 3.5million compared to Brisbane ~1-1.5 million) I can see why people would be more aggressive in the bigger city. I've lived/driven in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and although Brisbane is worse than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney were MUCH worse traffic wise.

thinkmonkey said: "KUDOS for your proper usage of 'affective' and 'effective' in this article!"

Forgive me, to this day I still don't really know the difference between the two, and I'm sure I used them incorrectly above.


JJ
Posted 11 May 2006 at 08:13 pm

Hey people, first post ever! A big welcome to me!

I live in England, going to University in Liverpool, and from what I've seen/heard the crime rate here in boring England (I'm actually from South Africa) is low, there are VERY few armed attacks, usually just "scallies" and such getting up to petty theft and stealing from people in the street. From this article I'm inclined to believe it is so because of the weather. In contrast, South Africa is a very hot place, and can get very humid, and it can become quite dangerous in places, as in wepaon/beaten up dangerous, which happens very little in England, only in some of the "rougher" council estates.

Just my 2 cents.


sleepwalker
Posted 11 May 2006 at 08:46 pm

so that explains why people on middle east countries are hot blooded and got war on their veins compared to those in north or south pole people.


sierra_club_sux
Posted 11 May 2006 at 08:46 pm

I always thought the higher crime rates / heat ratio increased due to people being out of the house and more active during the summer months. Damn Interesting to learn that temperature and humidity may be causing chemical imbalance in the brains of individuals causing them to become violent. Guess to save myself my next post will be from the Arctic Circle... No wonder those Canadians are so polite...


Daniel Lew
Posted 11 May 2006 at 08:52 pm

klone said: "i have to say it, but rape is a violent crime, also, think about how the suicide rate is higher in places like Seattle WA and Portland OR, places that get lots of rain, and little sun during the winter months"

The concept was not that rape is non-violent, but that violence isn't the primary goal of rape; when you beat someone else up, the primary goal is violence.


Iscariot
Posted 11 May 2006 at 09:10 pm

To the Rubbish! (KeoN) comment - the Middle East is pretty damned hot...


Armani
Posted 11 May 2006 at 09:53 pm

shorty said: "i agree with the Rubbish comment. it is rubbish. the first paragraph is completely useless. could have done much better. it's not just a "southern thang". poor study."

kwiksand said: "Very Interesting indeed. Whilst I'm not an American (excuse my ignorance), I wanted to know if the trend was true for all southern cities/states in the USA? What I mean by this, is my outsiders point of view tells me that Texas is not the nicest of states with regards to gun laws, hick ratio, poverty and crime rate (I'm basing this mostly on media coverage of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina).

Is the violent/aggressive crime rate similar in Florida/California/Texas, in that it is higher than the Northern States, say Washington/New York etc?? I'm not having a stab at the United States, by the way, I'm merely expressing my ignorance of the demograph of the USA, and using it to question the article.

While we're on the topic, I wonder if a study has been done outside the US, maybe a general trend can be seen in a country like China where violent crime rate grows as you get closer to the equator. It would, of course, be next useless to base the study on different countries due to different laws, culture, traditions etc.

The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.

Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

I'm a Perth person here. I'd be inclined to think that the difference in road rage is due to population concentration, and how it affects traffic levels. I'm not sure what area's you're living in, but if its the capitals (Melbourne ~3 - 3.5million compared to Brisbane ~1-1.5 million) I can see why people would be more aggressive in the bigger city. I've lived/driven in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and although Brisbane is worse than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney were MUCH worse traffic wise.

Forgive me, to this day I still don't really know the difference between the two, and I'm sure I used them incorrectly above."

The answer is IT is an American thing. I dont see why u all are trying to say terrorist blow things up because it is hot; USA are the real terrorist.


Vivendi
Posted 11 May 2006 at 10:25 pm

Nice article, ofcourse an experiment like this is extremely hard to prove/disprove because of the many factors involved. Ofcourse you could test this on lab mice...

"The answer is IT is an American thing. I dont see why u all are trying to say terrorist blow things up because it is hot; USA are the real terrorist."

It's USA's fault, it can get pretty hot there as well.


Vivendi
Posted 11 May 2006 at 10:25 pm

Opps

That was "It's not USA's fault, it can get pretty hot there as well."


Plank
Posted 11 May 2006 at 10:47 pm

JJ you can't compare the crime in South Africa and England. I am from South Africa and have lived in England as well. Poverty is probably the biggest reason for the high crime rate in certain areas of South Africa.

The reasons for the crime being violent has probably got a lot to do with our relaxed judicial system. Just take a look at how crime rates (especially violent crime) have risen since the abolishment of the death penalty. I'm not saying that the temperature has nothing to do with it, I'm just saying that it is one of the millions of variables and probably plays the smallest of roles


cutterjohn
Posted 11 May 2006 at 10:51 pm

It may have something to do with the heat.. Some people certainly do become more iritable when its 110 degrees outside. But i think there is another factor that was ignored..

When its warm, people go out more. More people out and about, and not sitting at home, means more interaction. And more interaction between people means there will be a larger number of altercations between two pissheads.

But i could be wrong as well.


GMan
Posted 12 May 2006 at 01:19 am

Interesting enough, if you look on a world map at the so called band that covers the third world countries, most of it is around the equator where it is generally warmer. With the first and second world countries in the colder areas on the map.

I live in South Africa, where I think it is typically warmer in general than I think it would be in most Eupopean and other northern countries, but here we have mixed developed and developing population sharing the same climate.

People living in colder areas might perseive our climate as being hot and uncomfortable since they are not used to it. To those who grew up here, its normal. My personal view on the topic is that it is not the warmer weather that instigates violence, but rather the cold weather that suppresses it. When it gets winter here, which is cold for us, people mostly keep to their homes and make effort to keep warm and comfortable while keeping busy to stay warm.

In cold weather, there are less people going out and hanging aroung enjoying the day outside than in the summer and thus less chances of friction or other violent behaviour occurring...


GMan
Posted 12 May 2006 at 01:24 am

Seems to be quite a few South Africans (and former South Africans) around here...


GMan
Posted 12 May 2006 at 02:50 am

Plank said: " The reasons for the crime being violent has probably got a lot to do with our relaxed judicial system. "

The current state of the judicial system in South Africa, is in my opinion a direct result of the political changes that occured in the last ten years.

Plank said: " Poverty is probably the biggest reason for the high crime rate in certain areas of South Africa. "

This is very true, and it might also be very interesting to research the effect that the climate has on poverty and the economic well being of a country, since this is often also the deeper root to violent behaviour. Maybe people in warmer places work less harder for shelter and security, leading to poverty, leading to violence?...


wh44
Posted 12 May 2006 at 03:35 am

Daniel Lew said: "The concept was not that rape is non-violent, but that violence isn't the primary goal of rape; when you beat someone else up, the primary goal is violence."

You've got it exactly backwards: violence is the primary goal of rape - the rapist wants to feel superior to his victim through the use of violence. The reason it is not affected by the heat, is that it is not affective - rape is usually not done "in the heat of the moment", but is rather planned.


wh44
Posted 12 May 2006 at 03:54 am

Even when you check different times of year for one city, you still get complicating factors - one that I'm very aware of, is that when it is warmer, you often get more pollen. I currently have a low-grade headache and am rather more irritable than usual, because I have hay fever - indirectly a result of the wonderful warm weather we're having here in Marburg, Germany.


hypersloth
Posted 12 May 2006 at 05:23 am

Anyone remember 92 Degrees by Siouxsie and the Banshees?

"Did you know that more murders are committed at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once… At lower temperatures, people are easy-going. Over 92 it's too hot to move. But at just 92, people get irritable!"


deadhead
Posted 12 May 2006 at 06:56 am

In response to the comment made about Texas, yes the violent crime rates are high here, but they are mainly based on two of the largest cities in the U.S. (Houston & Dallas). Anytime you have a massive ethnic melting pot like those two cities you will have increased crime and violence i.e. Los Angeles, NYC, etc. The rest of Texas is really a friendly place, we take pride in our courtesy to strangers. However I do agree that the heat has a major role in spontaneous aggression, I work in an aluminum smelter in central Texas, when the temp. is 106 deg. and the humidity is 100% people at work, myself included, fight and argue constantly. When winter comes around, we are friendly and laid back.


1c3d0g
Posted 12 May 2006 at 07:00 am

I totally agree with this hypothesis. I've experienced it myself, so I know it's true. Which is why I'm moving to a much colder climate... :-)


scarr
Posted 12 May 2006 at 07:05 am

I have to agree with the hot idea. I recently (about 8 months ago) moved to Monterrey, Mexico, from Houtzdale, PA. the drivers down here are bad. I mean real Bad. I am talking about having 2, 4 lane highways crossing in a T with only a stop sign for the entering road, and people will fill the left lane, the right lane, the right turn lane, and then make up to (i have seen it) 4 more lanes in the shoulder and surrounding dirt, and still go full ou into oncomming traffic to make another lane, just to make a LEFT turn and merge.

Ok, i hope get the idea of the driving down here.....anyway.

When it is hotter (it is never less than hot down here) more people will cut you off, lean out the window swearing, flip you off, and actually just ram you, than when it is not as hot. I work about 35 minutes away from my house (in this crazy traffic, it is actually like 10 miles), and i will see between 5 and 15 accidents (or their aftermath's) on really hot weeks, and as many as none to 2 on not as hot weeks.

Also these same people are the nicest, friendliest people you will ever meet.....When they are not driving.

Part of it could also be that most people do not have AC, so the heat really effects them when they drive.

And i get really mad really easy when it is hot!


kysportsfan
Posted 12 May 2006 at 07:09 am

I would agree with some that this study is flawed. I do think this study is basically degrading the South. If heat plays a factor in violence, then all the countries in hotter climates (especially near the Equator) would be in a constant civil war or total state of anarchy.

Granted, heat can affect some people, but that is not a reason to excuse to justify someone's criminal, rude, or inconsiderant behavior.


beaver
Posted 12 May 2006 at 08:00 am

I think that most of the people who are saying that the countries near the equator should have constant civil war or some sort of strife seem to be missing something. Namely that most of the countries in Central America and around the equator in Africa DO have constant civil wars, or whatever you wish to call them. Not to say that these are caused by the heat, more by history and past issues I think, but many of the countries in warmer climates do in fact have these problems.

That being said, I agree with some of this study and idea and of course it does not excuse someone's actions (though when this gets out its only a matter of time before someone tries it). You always seem to have more problems during the summer, but I think its because school is out during the summer in America. All of those elementary grade kids...nothing to do...just causes trouble.


Daniel Lew
Posted 12 May 2006 at 08:03 am

wh44 said: "You've got it exactly backwards: violence is the primary goal of rape - the rapist wants to feel superior to his victim through the use of violence. The reason it is not affected by the heat, is that it is not affective - rape is usually not done "in the heat of the moment", but is rather planned."

If you look at the sources, the one for which I read about the rape factor states that "because it is unclear what proportion of rape represent a form of hostile aggression, no a priori predictions were made about the correlation between temperature and rape." (Anderson, Bushman, Groom 1218). To put it another way, the exact cause for why the rate of rapes does not go up with the temperature is not known. So yes, I did go out on a limb on what I said above, sorry. However, I would not entirely agree with what you have said, either.

To say that violence is the primary goal of rape is true... sometimes. But it's certainly not true all the time. Rape is an extremely complex issue, and what you give is only one of many possible causes. I'm sure it's true in some cases, but not in others. If you want, I can find other theories for why people rape each other - I know they're out there.

Even if I were to fully accept your blanket statements, to say that "the rapist wants to feel superior to his victim through the use of violence" means that violence is not the primary goal of rape - rather, it is to feel superior. Violence is the means, feeling superior is the end. As I stated above, the theory says that heat only increases the likelihood of crimes in which violence is the primary goal.


Ironclaw
Posted 12 May 2006 at 08:18 am

I am waiting for the claims - "Its just another side effect of global warming" - I can just see someone trying to make that connection..

clayton said: "My dad - an old-school cop from way back - always hated the summer. He said the heat made people angry and that more crime occured in the summer. I guess he was right."

But better - I want to see the correlative studies between crime rate and moon phase.. I somehow think there may be a relation there too. My wife who works at the hospital says all the crazy people seem to come out on a full moon.. Now I cant even begin to claim thats a scientific observation, but it would be interesting to see that study done scientifically.

Heck maybe its a even a correlation between hot evenings and a full moon... never know..


The Random Avenger
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:19 am

I'll gladly make an Interest-ometer for DamnInteresting, just say the word.


jessface
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:21 am

Armani said: "Is the violent/aggressive crime rate similar in Florida/California/Texas, in that it is higher than the Northern States, say Washington/New York etc?? I'm not having a stab at the United States, by the way, I'm merely expressing my ignorance of the demograph of the USA, and using it to question the article.


While we're on the topic, I wonder if a study has been done outside the US, maybe a general trend can be seen in a country like China where violent crime rate grows as you get closer to the equator. It would, of course, be next useless to base the study on different countries due to different laws, culture, traditions etc.

The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.

Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

I'm a Perth person here. I'd be inclined to think that the difference in road rage is due to population concentration, and how it affects traffic levels. I'm not sure what area's you're living in, but if its the capitals (Melbourne ~3 - 3.5million compared to Brisbane ~1-1.5 million) I can see why people would be more aggressive in the bigger city. I've lived/driven in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and although Brisbane is worse than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney were MUCH worse traffic wise.

Forgive me, to this day I still don't really know the difference between the two, and I'm sure I used them incorrectly above."

The answer is IT is an American thing. I dont see why u all are trying to say terrorist blow things up because it is hot; USA are the real terrorist."

Where are you from buddy?


DeweyCNY
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:33 am

Away from the terrorism angle... I would agree with the concept of this article to some extent. I grew up in Central New York, where the winters are very cold, we get over 100 inches of snow every year, and it gets in the 90's usually for a week or two in the summer. I grew up being told to stay out of trouble when it was the "dog days" of summer. My mom would always say something to the effect that when it gets really hot, watch out, you never know who you will tick off. And of course I didn't listen... The only incidents we had downtown we when it was really hot. Of course it also might be that people are just not out there looking for trouble so much when it's 7 degrees and you're trudging through 2 feet of snow?


Carcer
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:34 am

HULK SMASH! HULK SMA....Hulk say screw this! Hulk go to Norway!


sulkykid
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:50 am

shorty said: "i agree with the Rubbish comment. it is rubbish. the first paragraph is completely useless. could have done much better. it's not just a "southern thang". poor study."

Perhaps not rubbish, but not good science either. (The article, that is. The quoted studies are probably better thought out and more toward the intended point of the article.) There is an apples/oranges thing going on here. The comparison of North (U.S.A.) vs. South is different from comparing within the same location on cool vs. hot days. Certain crimes will just not happen as often in the North during winter. The South is much more temperate.

I think that it is VERY obvious that, all things being equal, there is going to be more human strife on a 100 degree (Farenheit) day than on a 65 degree day. If you are going to do a scientific/statistical study, the "all things being equal" part is very hard to control for.


Christ
Posted 12 May 2006 at 10:55 am

Some people thought what the article suggest is insulting or degrading. I can suggest something that expands the idea. Try not to feel like I'm out to diss. Here me out, my children. My love can find all home.

We allready know what causes people to commit violent crime; what makes liars, cheaters, theives, murderers, physical aggressors, and emotional belligerent folks such Themis ignorers.

Criminals are anti-social. Meaning, that they do not participate in society. The are usually uneducated and do not have the mental skills to work out their problems at a higher level. They don't utilize a foresight to predict the consequences of their actions. Or they are mentally ill... maybe they're are crazy and stupid. Still, they make things worse for everyone. Eventually Nemesis comes for them.

Now, if hot hot hot makes people agitated more, then they'll have more trouble thinking things through. You may be able to remember a time when you yourself became frustrated and agitated about something and then screwed up everything the rest of the day because you couldn't just calm down, think things through, and take your time. Heat probably makes 'cooling off' one's 'hot head' more difficult.

So, I'm suggesting there's more crime in the south because there are more ignorant people. There are more ignorant people because it's hot? Maybe... Look at it this way, if you know you get angry when it's hot, just be aware of that and try to notice when you are getting all 'hot and bothered'. Some people might not be able to think in that way for some reason. If they don't address their violent crime problem to begin with, they probably don't get to the advanced awareness of heat concepts. Perhaps just teaching those people WWJD is best.

What I want to know is if heat makes Southerners not use their turn-signals?


Xcalibur
Posted 12 May 2006 at 11:46 am

kwiksand said: "Very Interesting indeed. Whilst I'm not an American (excuse my ignorance), I wanted to know if the trend was true for all southern cities/states in the USA? What I mean by this, is my outsiders point of view tells me that Texas is not the nicest of states with regards to gun laws, hick ratio, poverty and crime rate (I'm basing this mostly on media coverage of the after effects of Hurricane Katrina).


Is the violent/aggressive crime rate similar in Florida/California/Texas, in that it is higher than the Northern States, say Washington/New York etc?? I'm not having a stab at the United States, by the way, I'm merely expressing my ignorance of the demograph of the USA, and using it to question the article.

While someone already addressed this a bit, I think it is worth taking a little bit more time to discuss. Of course the more metropolitan areas in the country are going to have more crime, poverty, etc, so in that respect I would think the numbers are similar from city to city throughout the US. The big difference between the North/South, in my opinion, is the amount of rural poverty. Due to its history (slavery, sharecropping, etc), the South seems to have much more poverty outside the major cities than the North does. That's just an observation of mine, and others might disagree, but I think that is the reason you have the hick/hillbilly stereotype for many rural Southerners and no real stereotype for rural Northerners. I don't think Texas is any more impoverished than any of the other Southern states in this regard, it just tends to get more attention and therefore becomes somewhat of a symbol for the overall South sometimes (when it's not out there pretending to be a country by itself...).

Ofcourse categorizing the South is hard in itself. I live in Indiana, a thoroughly Northern state, but once you get south of Indianapolis (in the middle of the state) the southern accents get thicker and the whole culture begins to change. The same occurs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois if I am not mistaken. And then there is California, which is an enigma within itself...

Like I said, others may disagree with me, but those have been my observations.


S Mirza
Posted 12 May 2006 at 01:31 pm

I've just been scanning the comments, but one of the things I picked up is that some people think that the Southern states are less educated...this is a very dangerous assumption. I do not disagree with people saying that the southern states are poorer, but simply saying that crime does not spawn from a lack of education.

Can you imagine someone saying "I'm sorry, I wasn't taguht that firearms were illegal?" in court?


apology
Posted 12 May 2006 at 02:17 pm

Fine article indeed. Very damn interesting hypothesis. Not surprised however. I'm sure there are a lot of other factors that count in to human behaviours that we have long ignored. Brain research is going to reveal a whole lot more in the following years, I'm sure, possibly a lot that will be hard to swallow.


needles
Posted 12 May 2006 at 06:24 pm

Mob psychology:
http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/psych470/To_Be_Edited/Mob_Psych_MEP.doc
The theory that people irrationally behave when they are anonymous, and are subject to go along with the mood of the crowd.


Armani
Posted 12 May 2006 at 06:25 pm

jessface said: "The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.


Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

I'm a Perth person here. I'd be inclined to think that the difference in road rage is due to population concentration, and how it affects traffic levels. I'm not sure what area's you're living in, but if its the capitals (Melbourne ~3 - 3.5million compared to Brisbane ~1-1.5 million) I can see why people would be more aggressive in the bigger city. I've lived/driven in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and although Brisbane is worse than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney were MUCH worse traffic wise.

Forgive me, to this day I still don't really know the difference between the two, and I'm sure I used them incorrectly above."

The answer is IT is an American thing. I dont see why u all are trying to say terrorist blow things up because it is hot; USA are the real terrorist."

Where are you from buddy?"

I am from Oklahoma lol.

Civil war in south america? Who is it caused by? the ppl that actually live there or outside politics?

Whoever said they based their comment on the News, you're a fool for believing what they say. Part of why the USA is such a violent, retarded country is the news uses scare tatics for ratings. they dont show the good parts, but only the good rating sections of stories. If u ever saw the movie bowling for columbine, Moore goes to ppl's houses in canada to show how unfriendly the US is.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 12 May 2006 at 06:34 pm

I'd like to add something else to Xcalibur's bit on Indiana...I am a native Hoosier (for those of you who aren't familiar, go rent the movie "Hoosiers". That's us folks in Indiana) myself, and also living here in Indianapolis, AKA the racing capital of the world, you can imagine how pissed people get when it's 90 degrees and 100% humidity in a state that has more vehicles per capita than any other state in the US. Factor in that you have more construction work going on around here then you do in most other places because unlike Indiana, lots of states have the good sense to wait until nightime to do that, you end up with some pretty angry people during the rush hour.

I always swore Indiana was like, the harbor for the other dimension to hell. I think you very much have to remember that warm weather naturally brings more people out too, and that no matter how many natives of any other country or state tell you your body adjusts, it does NOT. I get much angrier when I'm hot. Usually when I'm cold the only thing I can will myself to do is seek warmth. So I could see how, being out in the hot smothering air, so humid it feels like your breathing in water as thick as glue, can make you want to kill someone for cutting you off in traffic while your a/c is broke.


Psyanide
Posted 12 May 2006 at 08:50 pm

GRRRR I LIVE IN LAS VEGAS *SHAKES FISTS*


Arcangel
Posted 12 May 2006 at 09:51 pm

kwiksand said: "I'm a Perth person here. I'd be inclined to think that the difference in road rage is due to population concentration, and how it affects traffic levels. I'm not sure what area's you're living in, but if its the capitals (Melbourne ~3 - 3.5million compared to Brisbane ~1-1.5 million) I can see why people would be more aggressive in the bigger city. I've lived/driven in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and although Brisbane is worse than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney were MUCH worse traffic wise."

Funny that someone doesn't know the capital of their own country. I have always thought the capital of Australia was Canberra not Melbourne or Brisbane http://www.canberratourism.com.au/

I also think the study is just rubbish. People use to think the full moon accounted for a lot of violent crime and boy was their thinking off. The science is just not there in either case. Maybe they thought werewolves were involved.


supernovia
Posted 13 May 2006 at 12:47 am

Daniel Lew said: "The concept was not that rape is non-violent, but that violence isn't the primary goal of rape; when you beat someone else up, the primary goal is violence."

I don't know - do people beat each other up just to be violent? I'm thinking more along the lines of pride of the individual or group, inability to deal with arguments, racism, sexism, biggotry, unbridled anger, damaged ego, and a general disrespect for others; a means to feed the power hungry. Rape seems related more to the desire to make another person suffer and be conquered (same reasons for beating someone up) than to non-violent notions, except maybe in cases of date-rape.

Meanwhile, I think I'm arguing tonight for the sake of arguing... is it insomnia or my space heater? Or the cold basement that requires it? Hmmm... :)


HiEv
Posted 13 May 2006 at 07:04 pm

It seems to me that most people here calling the studies "rubbish" are only doing so because they don't like the facts and conclusions or they are extrapolating beyond the claims made by these studies and then disputing that. None of the people declaring "rubbish" have actually pointed to any problems with the methodology of the studies themselves.

If you don't like the conclusions then look for a real reason why they're wrong. (Note: Anecdotal evidence is not a good reason.) Simply calling something "rubbish" because you don't like what it says is just like putting your fingers in your ears and singing "LA-LA-LA!!" really loudly, it doesn't make you right or prove that the thing you're complaining about is wrong, it only makes you look foolish, especially if it's true.

Also, the studies were based on occurrences within the United States, so the effect may be partially due to a cultural artifact. We won't know until more studies on this are done outside of the US. In the mean time, extrapolating the results of these studies to places outside of the US may be inaccurate.

In other words, the people who say these studies are not true need to explain what is wrong with the methodology of the studies, and the people who say that they are true must be careful not to make more of the results than what these studies actually say.

...Ironclaw, there are correlative studies between crime rate and moon phase, and there is a negative correlation. To put it simply: Luna doesn't cause lunatics. ;-) See the Straight Dope article "Do things get crazy when the moon is full?"


Cynos
Posted 13 May 2006 at 08:41 pm

Arcangel said: "Funny that someone doesn't know the capital of their own country. I have always thought the capital of Australia was Canberra not Melbourne or Brisbane http://www.canberratourism.com.au/

Errr.... he said "capitals" note the plural. Australia has states and each state has a capital. Carrying on, however


I also think the study is just rubbish. People use to think the full moon accounted for a lot of violent crime and boy was their thinking off. The science is just not there in either case. Maybe they thought werewolves were involved."

Anecdotally speaking, as a former (what do Americans call it... the people who give you the unemployment assistance) Case Manager working in the err, more mentally unwell parts of society, the full moon thing may not correlate to crime, but certain of my clients would become more unwell with it.

Maybe they couldn't sleep during the night.


amrit
Posted 14 May 2006 at 01:02 pm

Interesting article. It reminded me of the part in Albert Camus' The Stranger in which the main character kills another character partially because he is feeling too hot.


kwiksand
Posted 15 May 2006 at 02:09 am

Armani said: "I am from Oklahoma lol.


Civil war in south america? Who is it caused by? the ppl that actually live there or outside politics?

Whoever said they based their comment on the News, you're a fool for believing what they say. Part of why the USA is such a violent, retarded country is the news uses scare tatics for ratings. they dont show the good parts, but only the good rating sections of stories. If u ever saw the movie bowling for columbine, Moore goes to ppl's houses in canada to show how unfriendly the US is."

As I said, I wasn't having a stab at the US, I know next to nothing about it. That's the image I get of the country though. It's EXACTLY the same as you Americans thinking we ride to shool on Kangaroo's.. If I hear that one agan, I'll laugh!!

Arcangel said: "Funny that someone doesn't know the capital of their own country. I have always thought the capital of Australia was Canberra not Melbourne or Brisbane http://www.canberratourism.com.au/

I also think the study is just rubbish. People use to think the full moon accounted for a lot of violent crime and boy was their thinking off. The science is just not there in either case. Maybe they thought werewolves were involved."

What cynos said.. Not the capital of Australia, but the capital city in each state.. Sounds like you're just trolling to get a rise out of me? It worked..


sierra_club_sux
Posted 15 May 2006 at 10:49 am

Oh boy... Australians don't ride kangaroos? LOL! Do people actually think that?! Unreal...


Rachel
Posted 16 May 2006 at 05:59 am

I remember hearing statistics about this from a prof about a year ago. It's certainly an easy phenomina to relate to, as anyone who's ever lived in -or been to- a big city in 36+ weather (97f+) can understand. You've got the sheer heat, the noise pollution, the pollution pollution, millions of other equally uncomfortable people and no refuge. I grew up in a rural area, and while heat waves did make everyone cranky, the effects are compounded in metropolitan areas. I was in Toronto last summer during the hottest days I have experienced in my life, and I can attest that I wasn't getting along with anybody.


orc_jr
Posted 19 May 2006 at 08:30 am

say what you want but i've seen an australian ride a kangaroo and one day i'll have the video evidence to prove it!


TheeObskure
Posted 19 May 2006 at 06:34 pm

I don't know about the rest of you, but I definitley notice a rise in aggressive/confrontational behaviour for the first few weeks of warm weather. Of course, I live in Oregon and it stays pretty cool here most of the time.


OmniNegro
Posted 21 May 2006 at 11:48 am

There are three primary things that cause a person to be violent.

1. They are inclined towards violence.

2. They are in a bad situation.

3. They are uncomfortable.

Obviously #1 is so simple as to nearly insult the intelligence of everyone here, but it's not ment as an insult.

#2 is far more of an issue to those in heavily populated areas because people are generally mean to one-another.

#3 is true whereever you go when the temperature is too high or the people are without ways to compensate for the temperature.

I live in Texas, USA and we have debatably the worst weather in the summer of all the USA.

I've heard people from California saying that although the temperature is sometimes higher there, it is much worse "feeling" here.

That is not to say that California is pleasant, and note that I've never been there, so if you have been to both places for more than a week or two durring the hellish summer I would welcome a comparison.

I am disabled and can't afford to run the AC much durring the summer, so I tend to be miserable from June to late August every year.

I am not inclined to violence, and I rarely ever get into a situation that violence would help in any way so I can't really confirm or deny the claims of this report.


The_Smurf_Strangler
Posted 04 June 2006 at 05:17 pm

I can't believe you actually think that rape is not a violent crime. You want to rethink that one mabey?


The_Smurf_Strangler
Posted 04 June 2006 at 05:20 pm

What about the southren states having higher poverty rates. Wouldn't that make much more sense.. wouldn't be damn interesting though. This is my least favorite article ever.


dr_toonie
Posted 26 November 2006 at 02:37 pm

Well there you go, that explains Canada.


Jeffrey93
Posted 16 March 2007 at 08:22 am

I thought this was proven. You can track reported crime and watch it go up and down with the reported temperatures. This would only be violent crimes I'd imagine.

The hotter people are the shorter their fuses seem to be. Which would explain us here in Canada. Although...I've seen some pretty short fuses in a freezing cold arena, I guess that's just 'part of the game'.


KireSunfer
Posted 19 June 2007 at 09:46 am

Another tie to the end of the world. In the Apocalypse man will kill man in seemingly endless hate. With global warming eventually everywhere will be effected by high temperature heat, and those of us without air conditioning will kill those who have it.


psyOtic
Posted 19 November 2007 at 10:18 pm

i know about this first hand when its realy hot all i want to do is fight most days i dont have the slightest problem with questions(however stupid), sujestions(however usless) or criticisum(as long as its constructive) but when its hot and some one asks or tells me a question/sujestion/critisisum all i want to punch / Abuse them. im not a unusualy Voilent person but i just feel angry for no reason when its hot ......... thank god for the A/C :-)


Dropbear
Posted 11 June 2008 at 11:15 pm

Asshe said: "....I live in Queensland Australia where is is hot and humid .....Previous to this, I lived in Victoria Australia which is much cooler and has virtually no humidity any time.

The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.

Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

Yeah but it could also be that Queensland drivers are weird....
Lets face it, Melbourne drivers are crazy-kill-you-as-soon-as-look-at-you-and-cut-you-off-in-the-process where as Queensland drivers prefer to drive in the middle of the road while doing 80 in the 100 zone.
Sorry Asshe, QLD rocks and I love it dearly but it is like driving on drugs.


a1c
Posted 09 August 2008 at 02:32 pm

Clubs are packed most on a hot night during a full moon.

Also, sex and aggression are linked in the brain of males. Out with the communication centers, in with the growling... err, howling.


troyboy
Posted 12 August 2008 at 11:06 pm

Asshe said: "Initailly I totally agreed with this hypothesis, however then I thought of a real-life example. I live in Queensland Australia where is is hot and humid about 75-80% year round. Previous to this, I lived in Victoria Australia which is much cooler and has virtually no humidity any time.
The point of this little story being: the drivers in Victoria are much more aggressive and prone to road rage, I find, than the Queensland drivers who are more laid back.
Also consider that most of us just feel lazier when the weather is hot and humid."

Actually I had the opposite thought while reading this article. I realised that WA, QLD, and NT the three places with the hottest hot (or humid) seasons are all the worst when it comes to violent crime. Well that's based on what I read in the news sitting here in cold (suprisingly violent crime free) Canberra :-)


BenKinsey
Posted 08 October 2008 at 06:25 am

I think that heat leads to irritability and consequently more violent behavior, no doubt, but lets not ignore the fact that the closer you get to the equator the poorer people tend to be. I'm not saying that the all of the countries themselves are necessarilly poor but the majority of people who live in those countries are. Who isn't pissed off in general when they are having financial difficulties? I know that I am.


Buckelew
Posted 06 May 2009 at 01:21 pm

The reason violence has escalated, in my opinion, has to do with the displacement of the criminal culture from New Orleans to other larger cities in the South; nearly all of them reported a significan increase in violence since Hurricane Katrina. If you haven't previously lived in New Orleans or visited there frequently enough to experience it, then you cannot possibly understand the cruxt of the situation.

This article oversimplifies the cause of more "violence" in the South. Overall, I'd agree that violence in the rural South is also probably worse than other parts of the country. Rural populations are at just the right density for roving criminals to scope for vulnerable properties and people. But it has a lot to do with the seamy cultures allowed to thrive, not just the heat.


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