According to popular belief (not to mention popular music), there's long been a link between mood and weather. Some of us can't stand the rain. Others aren't happy unless we can feel the warm glow of sunshine on our shoulders.
But does rain really make us blue? And does the sun really cheer us up? A new study in the journal Emotion explored this popular belief by surveying nearly 500 adolescents and their mothers and found that for some of us, weather does indeed have a direct affect on our mood.
"We identified a group of 'Summer Lovers,' who were happier, less fearful and less angry on days with more sunshine and higher temperatures and less happy and more anxious and angry on days with more hours of precipitation," says Dr. Tom Frijns, a psychologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and co-author of the study.
Frijns and his colleagues also identified a group of so-called "Summer Haters," who were less happy and more fearful and angry when the temperature and the percentage of sunshine were higher and happier and less fearful and angry with more hours of precipitation.
Cue "Singing in Rain" for this group of rain lovers.
A third group, which Frijns called "Rain Haters" was also identified. As implied by the name, this group felt angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation.
Summer Lovers comprised 17 percent of the group of adolescents, while Summer Haters weighed in at 27 percent. Rain Haters made up 9 percent of the group with the rest of the test subjects falling into a group they labeled Unaffected, i.e., neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor sun seemed to affect the mood of this group of potential postal workers.
Interestingly enough, the study also found evidence that "weather reactivity" runs in families.
"Summer Loving mothers more often had children who were also classified as Summer Lovers than would have been expected by chance," he says. "Similarly, the observed frequency of Rain Hating mothers with a Rain Hating child was twice as high as the expected frequency on the basis of chance."
Frijns believes his own moods are affected by the weather, although he himself doesn't seem to fall into any of the four study categories.
"I feel better on warm sunny days than on the dark and rainy ones, which unfortunately outnumber the warm and sunny ones this summer here in the Netherlands," he says. "But then again, I can sometimes really enjoy a good rain shower or thunderstorm."
The weather makes us do funny things. Examples: