Toward a Thermoregulatory Model of Violence

Ehor O. Boyanowsky
Jocelyn Calvert
James Young
Linda Brideau

DOI: 10.2190/YG2Q-PNP3-5K30-M145


The effects of climate on violent crime have long been noted in the criminological literature, but the data have been at best equivocal. To determine the direct effects of environmental temperature on emotion, physiological arousal and aggression, a series of studies was conducted. Subjects instigated to aggress against an insulting evaluator displayed an affective pattern of heightened aggression under conditions of uncomfortable heat, and an instrumental pattern under conditions of uncomfortable cold. These findings suggest intraindividual mechanisms and conditions that could account for the correlational findings mentioned: heightened temperature may lower an individual's threshold for aggression under conditions of interpersonal provocation. In addition, tympanic temperature monitoring changes at the anterior hypothalamus may be a useful index of instigation to aggression.

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