1.5 Minutes on Influence: The Effect of Heat on Behaviour and Why Skills Are Sometimes Overrated

Happy 1,5 Minutes on Influence!

Here is your weekly dose of applying the psychology of influence
to positively impact choices and behaviours.

Looking forward to sharing insights with you!

Warm regards,



I’m writing this in southern Vietnam, where it’s a sweltering 34°C (93.2°F). I can’t complain, but it’s made me think about how heat affects our decision-making and behaviour. Truth be told, I feel like my brain is operating in slow motion. But what does science have to say about this?

Is there a link between heat and behaviour?

If you’ve ever snapped at someone during a heatwave or felt more irritable, you’re not alone. Heat does indeed affect our behaviour. I’ve found research that describes the “heat hypothesis”. The studies reveal that heat can intensify anger, aggression, and even lead to violence., which explains why crime peaks in summer.

In other words, when the heat is on, we tend to act more heated ourselves. Not only do we snap as people, but we also make snap judgments and decisions.

This could be why “overheated” discussions don’t have a positive reputation.

So, what can we do?

The most logical answer is to try and stay cool. And secondly. It helps to do some self-observation Be more attentive to your mental boiling point. If you start to notice yourself becoming more irritable, it’s time to cool down. You know the saying: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Thirdly, anger management is key. If you feel anger rising, try to refocus your attention on something positive. Behavioural science has taught us that where our focus is, our attention goes, along with the feelings that follow.

Lastly, behaviour doesn’t occur in isolation; it’s influenced by our surroundings. It’s important to understand what triggers your anger most and avoid those situations. For example, I can’t tolerate people who eat noisily, so I consciously steer clear of them.

I leave you with a question. As the planet warms, ACs may put too much strain on the energy grid, and people may become more irritable during the heat. Perhaps we need innovative ideas to keep our heads cool in the future.

The cold turns out to be fuel for innovation.

And positive side-effect? We don’t need to complain about cold weather anymore—how is that for a positive spin!

I’m going for a dip in the pool now. I’ll send you some moderate warmth from here!

Further reading:

Temperature and aggression: ubiquitous effects of heat on occurrence of human violence. Psychological Bulletin.
Homicide in São Paulo, Brazil: Assessing spatial-temporal and weather variations. Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Temperature and mental health: Evidence from the spectrum of mental health outcomes. Journal of Health Economics.

Interested in understanding the psychological forces that drive behaviour and discovering a method for creating behavioural interventions that lead to better decisions and desired behaviours? Join our two-day Fundamentals Course! You can download the brochure here NL and UK. The training is available in both Dutch and English, and can be tailored for individuals or teams.


Why Skills Are Sometimes Overrated

I listened to a fascinating podcast that touched upon the difference between skills and behaviour, which is especially insightful if you’re in a leadership role. The author argued that we tend to give more leeway to performance, but not to behaviour, as

Behaviour is a choice, not a skill.

As a new leader, everyone is watching not just what you do, but what you don’t do. If you fail to address issues that everyone else can see, your leadership reputation is already in jeopardy, as people might perceive you as oblivious, indecisive, or overly tolerant of poor behaviour.

This perspective is interesting in three ways. First, we might want to reconsider placing such heavy emphasis on skill assessment in hiring. Performance-based interview techniques that focus on past behaviour have long been used in the military, where people’s actions can have life-or-death consequences. However, we could all benefit from this approach to improve our hiring decisions.

Second, this insight isn’t just useful for leaders; it’s relevant for anyone within an organisation. In practice, people judge you by your actions, not by your CV.

And finally, on an organisational level, this is a vital insight as so much time and effort goes into building thriving company cultures, but ultimately, I believe a company’s culture is the sum of the behaviours of its people, particularly those when no one is watching.

Food for thought and more Behavioural Design!



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Until next week,

Astrid Groenewegen

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