Requests for reprints should be sent to John L. Cotton, Department of Organizational Behavior, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
Ambient Temperature and Violent Crime1
Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 16, Issue 9, pages 786–801, December 1986
How to Cite
Cotton, J. L. (1986), Ambient Temperature and Violent Crime. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16: 786–801. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1986.tb01168.x
The author would like to thank Teresa Johnson for her help in collecting data for Study 1 and Laura Cotton and the Indianapolis Police Department for their assistance in collecting the data for Study 2. I would also like to thank Robert A. Baron, Laura Cotton, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Portions of this research were presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, 1981, and the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, 1982.
- Issue online: 31 JUL 2006
- Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Baron and Ransberger (1978) argue that civil violence increases as temperature rises into the mid 80s, and then decreases as temperatures rise further. Two experiments test this hypothesis using data on temperature and the incidence of crime for summer months in two midwestern cities. The crime data were divided into violent and nonviolent crimes, and then correlated with the maximum, minimum, and average temperatures, and several humidity measures. Violent crime correlated significantly with temperature; nonviolent crime did not. This relationship was linear in the first study, but curvilinear in the second. Inspection of the data suggests that the incidence of aggressive behavior (i.e., violent crime) does not drop off in the mid-80s as laboratory findings and Baron and Ransberger's results would suggest, but continues to increase as temperatures rise into the 90s. The mean incidence of violent crime was higher for days in the 90s than for days in the 80s. A hypothesis for resolving this contradiction between real world and laboratory findings is discussed.