New York Today: How Warm Weather Affects Our Behavior


Yes, this photograph was taken this week.

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Updated, 7:12 a.m.

Good morning on this beautiful Friday.

This week, we’ve observed some odd behavior for February: people sunbathing in Washington Square Park, passers-by in shorts sipping iced coffee and commuters lining up near empty Citi Bike racks.

Which got us thinking: How does warm weather affect our behavior?

“Studies have shown that pleasant weather is associated with a few positive shifts in behavior,” said Vinita Mehta, a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington.

We asked her to guide us through some of the research.

How does behavior change when the weather is more pleasant?

We may be more helpful.

In a 2013 study, four research assistants posed as hitchhikers on a roadside in France. Researchers analyzed drivers’ behavior in 2,864 hitchhiking cases, noting if the weather was sunny or cloudy. Drivers were more inclined to stop on sunny days, the study found. “When people are in a positive mood, everything looks brighter, and we’re more open to people and situations,” Dr. Mehta said.

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We may spend more money.

A 2010 study on retail sales found that as exposure to sunlight increased, consumer spending also…

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