The effects of temperature on prosocial and antisocial behaviour: a review and meta-analysis

Dermot Lynott, Katherine Corker, Louise Connell, Kerry O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research from the social sciences suggests an association between higher temperatures and increases in antisocial behaviours, including aggressive, violent, or sabotaging behaviours, and represents a heat-facilitates-aggression perspective. More recently, studies have shown that higher temperature experiences may also be linked to increases in prosocial behaviours, such as altruistic, sharing, or cooperative behaviours, representing a warmth-primes-prosociality view. However, across both literatures, there have been inconsistent findings and failures to replicate key theoretical predictions, leaving the status of temperature-behaviour links unclear. Here we review the literature and conduct meta-analyses of available empirical studies that have either prosocial (e.g., monetary reward, gift giving, helping behaviour) or antisocial (self-rewarding, retaliation, sabotaging behaviour) behavioural outcome variables, with temperature as an independent variable. In an omnibus multivariate analysis (total N = 4577) with 80 effect sizes, we found that there was no reliable effect of temperature on the behavioural outcome measured. Further, we find little support for either the warmth-primes-prosociality view or the heat-facilitates-aggression view. There were no reliable effects if we consider separately the type of behavioural outcome (prosocial or antisocial), different types of temperature experience (haptic or ambient), or potential interactions with the experimental social context (positive, neutral, or negative). We discuss how these findings affect the status of existing theoretical perspectives and provide specific suggestions advancing research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1579
Number of pages38
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • aggression
  • antisocial
  • behaviour
  • priming
  • prosocial
  • temperature

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