By Eshani Goradia ’19
Most of us have felt rejuvenated or suppressed by the weather at some point in our lives. However, we probably haven’t taken the time to see and record how the weather is actually affecting our behavior. Although many studies in the past investigated the association between season and mood, scientists have not delved into how weather and seasons influence satisfaction in everyday activities. Dr. Dick Ettema of Utrecht University and a group of scientists studied the effects of seasons and weather through online mood assessment tests prior to and postnwork commutes via different modes of travel.
A random sample of 363 Swedish people took the MyExperience application, a survey taken various times throughout the day during the fall, summer, and winter seasons. It measured mood with the question “How do you feel right now?” and the Swedish Core Affect Scale, which shows adjectives that can be used to measure differences in mood within and between individuals. During this entire time, data was collected for precipitation, temperature, sunshine, and wind speed from a database called RL.SE.
The results demonstrated that mood prior to commute is influenced by an individual’s age and sex: an older age seemed to be correlated with a positive mood. Mood following the commute seemed to mirror one’s mood prior to the commute. People commuting by car and public transportation showed a less positive mood than those who used the other modes of transportation. Although season did not show a direct relation to mood, higher than average monthly temperatures resulted in an increase in mood directly after the commute, and rain or snow during the commute resulted in a decrease in mood. The scientists were surprised to find that slow modes of commuting in sunshine, such as walking or cycling, led to a decrease in mood. Like mood, travel satisfaction was also not affected by season, but did show changes in response to weather variables.
These findings can have important implications for policy makers and transportation/trip planners. A future study may want to exclude or adjust for confounding variables such as air conditioning, sunglasses, clothing, and distance of commute to make the results even more potent.
- D. Ettema, et al., Season and weather effects on travel-related mood and travel satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology 8, (2017). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00140.
- Image retrieved from: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/10/09/06/21/anonymous-1725254_960_720.jpg