How does the weather affect our mood?

I’m late to the Earth Day Party and I know it. However, I’m neither a biologist nor do I claim to be an expert in environmental matters so I thought about it a while longer. And I decided I want to tell you a little something I found out researching how weather impacts our mood. Just for fun.

There is a fair amount of research on the relation of weather and our mood in several detailed aspects. To be honest, I started researching while thinking of a possible positive influence of good weather such as sunshine on overall well-being. And I found not only a very inconsistent picture but lots of evidence on negative effects as well. And the relation isn’t as simple as I thought.

Apparently, there is no general ability of weather itself to put us in a good mood per se. While rising temperature, long hours of sunlight, and a decrease in wind might improve our mood and memory or broaden our cognition [Keller et al., 2005], hot temperature and humidity are associated with irritability, poor sleep and a state of aggression [Denissen et al., 2008]. Heavy rain is also reported to accompany aggression [Connolly, 2013]. It actually makes sense, I just didn’t think about it before.

And then there is the Seasonal affective disorder, a depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. This is not what I had in mind when I started researching the impact of weather on the mood but it’s definitely one of the more commonly known influences.

So yes, weather does impact our mood but it’s not the only factor to keep in mind. Good weather means nothing if we don’t spend any time outside to take in some sunlight and enjoy nature.


Connolly, M. (2013). Some like it mild and not too wet: The influence of weather on subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 457-473.

Denissen, J.J.A.; Butalid, Ligaya; Penke, Lars; van Aken, Marcel A. G. (2008). The effects of weather on daily mood: A multilevel approach. Emotion, 8(5), 662-667.

Keller, Matthew C.; Fredrickson, Barbara L.; Ybarra, Oscar; Côté, Stéphane; Johnson, Kareem; Mikels, Joe; Conway, Anne; Wager, Tor; (2005). A Warm Heart and a Clear Head: The Contingent Effects of Weather on Mood and Cognition. Psychological Science, 16(9),724-731.

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