Bad weather is 'more depressing than terrorist attack', study finds

Bad weather can cause us to get extremely down, it seems (REX)
Bad weather can cause us to get extremely down, it seems (REX)

We’ve all experienced the long winter days when dark weather, rain and cold temperatures leaves us desperately yearning for the warm release of summer.

Now, scientists say that the effects of cold weather may be a whole lot worse than we previously realised.

A study of 3.5 billion social media posts has concluded that sub-zero temperatures are more depressing to the public than the annual anniversary of 9/11.

Bad weather also makes people feel the same reaction as the 2015 mass shootings in San Bernardino, which resulted in the deaths of 14 people.

The dramatic reactions were revealed in new research by Dr Patrick Baylis from the Vancouver School of Economics and Dr Nick Obradovich, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The study analysed a billion tweets to see the effects of weather (REX)
The study analysed a billion tweets to see the effects of weather (REX)

Dr Obradovich and Dr Baylis analysed the language used software to scour the language used in billions of social media posts.

They extensively looked for words that expressed emotion such as ‘nice’ and love’, as well as negative words including ‘ugly’ and ‘nasty’.

The tweets were then compared to weather conditions at the time of the tweet being posted – analysed next to local temperature records, humidity and clouds.

‘We conducted the largest ever investigation into the relationship between meteorological conditions and the sentiment of human expressions’, said Dr Obradovich.


‘We find that how we express ourselves is shaped by the weather outside. Adverse weather conditions – hot and cold temperatures, precipitation, added humidity, and increased cloud cover – reduce the sentiment of human expressions across billions of social media posts drawn from millions of US residents.’

Perhaps unsurprisingly, positive feelings are also linked with good weather – with positive expressions increasing when the weather is above 20 degrees celsius.

Crucially, however, the feeling of positivity is seen to decline as the temperature goes over 30 degrees.

‘Given the ubiquity of our exposure to varying weather conditions, understanding the influence they may have on our emotional states is of high importance’, added Dr Baylis.

‘Understanding our emotional states is of high importance, here we provide a window into this relationship.’