Current research on the relationship between temperature and crime (and violent crimes, in particular) sheds light on the reasons behind this baffling link. The increase in the opportunity for crime and the changes in temperament as a result of warm weather have been proposed as the main reasons hot temperatures may encourage more criminal conduct.
Summertime means more opportunities for crime
Warmer temperatures create greater crime opportunities, which is one of the most obvious explanations for the weather’s apparent impact on crime. Warm summer days encourage greater time spent outside and more outdoor activities, especially when compared to cold or snowy conditions.
Along with an increase in property-related crimes, there is an increase in interpersonal interactions, as well, during the summer months. In terms of statistics, the more encounters you have with people, the more likely you are to have a violent or criminal encounter.
The effects of temperature on human temperament
Another factor mentioned concerning the impact of warm weather on crime is a shift in temperament that occurs in tandem with the temperature change. Studies done in Finland have linked hot temperatures with changes in brain chemistry that make people more likely to take impulsive and aggressive actions.
Heat does not create violence, but it does seem to increase it, according to Craig Anderson, the director of Iowa’s Center for the Study of Violence and an expert on human aggression. The heat heightens tensions by making individuals perceive more aggressiveness in some behaviors than is intended. In other words, the same mental effect that makes you more likely to blast your horn on a hot day is the same that adds to more violence throughout the summer.
Why this connection matters
The new discovery that hot temperatures are linked to higher crime rates is significant for several reasons. For one, the findings from the study will assist individuals in law enforcement and allied professions in preparing for the increase in violent acts that comes with rising temperatures. Also, it can help experts understand the mental factors leading to a criminal charge.
The link between hot weather and crime is important to environmentalists because it helps them comprehend the full impact of environmental changes on people. With the prospect of global warming looming, the effect of temperature on crime rates becomes much more of a concern, providing yet another reason to pay closer attention to the environment.