The Hard Facts: Fair Weather Friends

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“A recent study suggests people are less likely to pick up on kindness and generosity when exposed to cold temperatures. … Turn up the heat before making new friends. Studies suggest warmer temperatures make people more trusting.” (“Want To Make Friends? Stay Out of The Cold,”, July 2011)

What are you waiting for, people? According to the weatherman, now is the time to make those BFFs. The sun is shining, the heat is no joke. Fair-weather friends? You betcha.

I like the idea of conceding the BFF cycle to Mother Nature. I could have guessed that warm weather temps might lend themselves to social connection, but not for the reasons science says. I figured, at least in Chicago, that people go out in the world, put down their heads, and barrel through the street before the wind takes them out. In the Windy City, it’s every man for himself when the temperature starts dropping. There’s no time to stop and chat. Save yourselves!

Here’s the actual science: “Researchers suggest a part of the brain called the insula processes both the body’s responses to temperature and feelings of trust. … people might simply not be able to help but associate warmth with positive memories and the cold with scarier, shivery moments we’d all love to forget.”

Now that you’ve got science behind you: Go forth! It’s easy to procrastinate a friend search. We all do it. But if you live somewhere like Chicago–you know, for example–that warm weather window is mighty short. If you don’t act fast you could be screwing yourself. Once winter hits, your friendly overtures might go unnoticed.

What do you think? Do you notice a change in friendability when the weather turns?


Filed under The Search

5 responses to “The Hard Facts: Fair Weather Friends

  1. Kate

    Ah, I believe this. My husband and I had trouble forming a social circle in chilly San Francisco. After just five months in Houston, we have more new friends than we can stand. 😉

  2. I guess I can see people being more friendly and outgoing in nice weather (though, without crappy weather, whatever will we all talk about with each other?). I read a while ago that, when it comes to dating, people are more likely to hook up as the cold weather is coming in, so then they’ll have someone to stay in with all winter. I guess it’d make sense that you’d want more and more friends to go out with when the weather is nice.

  3. Interesting. I had a plethora of friends when living in my native SoCal but, since moving to NY state nearly 8 years ago, have had a terrible time making friends. Could it be the climate?

  4. Anonymous

    Not necessarily. As a Canadian, I wouldn’t say there are many people friendlier than us! In fact, my hometown of Montreal, one of the coldest urban centres in Canada, has a reputation for its friendly people, especially when compared with Toronto, where temperatures don’t dip as low or where there isn’t as much snow.

  5. darby

    Some of the friendliest encounters in my city (Canadian as well) happen during our winter storms. People just become helpful and friendly. A big friendly snow globe. For the first few months of winter anyways. But then the last few months they are grumpy. ha!

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