My pattern-matching brain at work again

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be more hot-headedness coming out of warmer climates whereas people in the chilly places tend to keep their cool? I mean, you don’t see Sweden taking over Norway. The Kiwis are pretty laid back people and seem to have worked an a mutually agreeable arrangement with the Maoris. The suggestion of Canada invading the Middle East seems so anti-thetical that it’s farcical. I don’t know my South American geography and politics, but I have the impression that most of the unrest that I’ve heard about there has come from closer to the equator. (OK, so Argentina has its problems.)

Am I on to something here? Is it the weather or the difference in magnetic fields relative to the polls or …? Could the worlds’ political and social unrest perhaps be solved by sending aggressors on an all-expense paid vacation to Greenland?

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6 thoughts on “My pattern-matching brain at work again

  1. Totally. Born and raised in Minnesota – the Siberia of of America – I totally see that.

    But there’s also a higher suicide rate in colder places. Anger turns inwards.

  2. Well, we social psychologists (not me personally) have demonstrated a positive correlation between heat and aggression, as well as a causal relationship through experimental research. (Oh no… here she goes talking science again. ;)). So yeah, you’re onto something.

    More recently though, another subset of social psychologists has speculated on aggression differences in one region of the world: the Southeastern vs. Northeastern US. Their idea is that these two areas were largely settled by two different groups. Whereas the South was settled by the Scotch-Irish livestock-herding types, the North was settled by English and German farmers. How does this translate into aggression differences? They explain that, within a livestock-herding group, people can more easily get away with crimes like theft (i.e., it’s easy to steal livestock when everyone’s animals are roaming freely). Back in antebellum South, this would often happen outside the law, as people were very spread out on the land and not under the close watch of legal authorities. This translates into a situation in which people have to be ready to defend their property (and thus their honor) on their own, often outside the law. According to this line of thought, part of “Southern culture” has become what you might call a “culture of honor,” in which Southerners are socialized, for example, to be quickly roused to anger upon an insult. So, although this culture of honor isn’t exactly adaptive the way it used to be, it’s a part of Southerners’ social heritage that is with people to this day.

    Other people have written more extensively on the topic of settlement patterns and lifestyle differences, but this group of social psychologists (sorry, cannot for the life of me remember who it is at the moment) has experimentally demonstrated that Southerners and Northerners respond differently to personal affront!

    Having grown up in the Southeast myself, I can definitely see this…

    • That’s really something. How lucky I am to have a social psychologist in my flist! So, I wonder what happens when you taken a person of Southern heritage out of the South. Do we unlearn that and adapt to whatever the standards for interaction are in the place we end up?

      (I could take myself as an example and use inductive reasoning from there, but that wouldn’t be good science. ๐Ÿ˜‰ BTW, I absolutely intend on writing you back about your last post on science and astrology. I’ve just been trying to formulate my thoughts and find time to put them down. It seems like it’s an important issue for me, so I’d like to think it through and refine and articulate as best I can. Hell, maybe THAT’s what I’ll do my PhD on.

      • So, I wonder what happens when you taken a person of Southern heritage out of the South. Do we unlearn that and adapt to whatever the standards for interaction are in the place we end up?

        Oh man, now there’s a book I could write… lots of personal stuff here…if you’re interested, e-mail me. The short answer is–assimilation was difficult, at least for me.

        As for science & astrology, yeah, I’d love to discuss this more. I’m always up for a good debate! ๐Ÿ™‚

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