Temperatures could play a key role in shaping the personalities of people and, if scientists are correct, climate change could have a major effect on the traits humans develop.
A new study suggests that personalities are shaped by the temperatures of the areas where people are raised and if global warming changes those weather patterns, people’s personalities may shift too. Temperature, according to the research, affects people’s habits based on where on Earth they live. It dictates whether people like to explore their surrounding areas, interact with others, attempt new activities or work outdoors in industries like farming and agriculture.
The researchers looked at personality questionnaires from people who live in moderate and extreme climates across China (5,500 people from 59 cities) and the U.S. (1.66 million people in 12.500 ZIP codes), LiveScience reported.
They saw that the people who grew up in mild temperatures — regardless of country, gender, age and income — tended to be more agreeable, conscientious, emotionally stable and extroverted. The study said that the middling temperatures these people live in likely encouraged more social interaction among a greater number of activities.
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But some don’t think that such heavy emphasis should be placed on the climate in which a person grows up.
“I would caution … against thinking that our ancestors, and we ourselves of course, are passive products of where we live,” cross-cultural psychologist Evert Van de Vliert, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience. By intelligently and actively using property and money, humans can and do create their own identity and destiny in harsher climates.”
And the study agrees. It found that for people in the U.S, those who live in colder climates like North and South Dakota, for example, have more eccentric personalities than those in more temperate climates like California.
But compared with those in China — who are generally more impoverished than in the U.S. — living in harsher climates like Shandong, they exhibited more conformist personalities than others living in the more moderate climates like Guangdong.
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The authors of the study said that more research is needed to further understand the weight climate has on personality but noted that “as climate change continues across the world, we may also observe (related) changes in human personality. Of course, questions about the size and extent of these changes await future investigation.”
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