Howard and Hoffman (1984) had 24 college students keep track of their mood (by filling out a mood questionnaire) over 11 consecutive days. They found a significant effect on mood correlated with the weather, especially with regards to humidity (a component of weather not always measured):
Humidity, temperature, and hours of sunshine had the greatest effect on mood. High levels of humidity lowered scores on concentration while increasing reports of sleepiness. Rising temperatures lowered anxiety and skepticism mood scores.
The number of hours of sunshine was found to predict optimism scores significantly. As the number of hours of sunshine increased, optimism scores also increased.
Keller and his colleagues (2005) examined 605 participants responses in three separate studies to examine the connection between mood states, a person’s thinking and the weather. They found that:
Pleasant weather (higher temperature or barometric pressure) was related to higher mood, better memory, and ‘‘broadened’’ cognitive style during the spring as time spent outside increased. The same relationships between mood and weather were not observed during other times of year, and indeed hotter weather was associated with lower mood in the summer.
These results are consistent with findings on seasonal affective disorder, and suggest that pleasant weather improves mood and broadens cognition in the spring because people have been deprived of such weather during the winter.
In conclusion, weather does appear to impact our moods. And that effect may become serious. Look no further for evidence of this than the very real condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is characterized by feelings of sadness and depression that occur in the winter months when the temperatures drop and the days grow short. This specific form of depression is often associated with excessive eating or sleeping and weight gain. Women are twice to three times more likely to suffer from the winter blues than men.
Some helpful strategies for dealing with poor weather and your negative mood :