Do you get grumpy when it is warmer than seventy degrees Fahrenheit?

I don’t think climate change is the right framing for this effect, nonetheless this is an interesting result, with the subtitle “Evidence from a billion tweets.”  Here is the abstract:

What is the welfare cost of environmental stress? The change in amenity values resulting from temperature increases may be a substantial unaccounted-for cost of climate change. Because there is no explicit market for climate, prior work has relied on cross-sectional variation or survey data to identify this cost. This paper presents an alternative method of estimating preferences over nonmarket goods which accounts for unobserved cross-sectional and temporal variation and allows for precise estimates of nonlinear effects. Specifically, I create a rich dataset on hedonic state: a geographically and temporally dense collection of updates from the social media platform Twitter, scored using a set of both human- and machine-trained sentiment analysis algorithms. Using this dataset, I find limited evidence of temperature effects on hedonic state in low temperatures and strong evidence of a sharp decline in hedonic state above 70◦F. This finding is robust across all measures of hedonic state and to a variety of specifications.

That is the job market paper (pdf) by Patrick Baylis, a job candidate from UC Berkeley.

And here is a new result that Canadians are more polite on Twitter, I wonder what happens if you control for temperature…

For the pointer I thank Samir Varma.


It explains why Smith and Hume were such equable fellows. I remember a headline in the Edinburgh Evening News: "Edinburgh sizzles in the seventies".

On the other hand Scotland gave the world the Wee Frees and were the only part of the British Isles to have legal judicial torture. Not to mention some pretty brutal witch hunting.

Think how much worse things might have been if Edinburgh routinely nudged the nineties.

Well, I guess all those people moving south like stress.

Indeed. Or maybe good weather causes most people to stop tweeting and go out enjoy the outdoors -- so the remaining population of tweeters is made up of grumpy trolls living in basements.

It was below zero when I went out to my car this morning.

Very grumpy

That actually seems like a pretty plausible interpretation. Note: it could also grumpy stuck inside because they have to work. This used to happen to me all the time.

Could also be skewed by the fact that the Christmas holidays are in the middle of the cold season.

Oh you northern hemispherist, you!

Excellent hypothesis.

Spend a summer in Houston. You will hate your life and/or not ever go outside for longer than it takes to walk to your car.

Re: Houston - I'm assuming Houston is like where I'm from (Florida), where nearly everywhere has central air and is built with hot summers in mind. To me, summers in places like this are much more comfortable than places like DC - with its abundance of old buildings and window A/C units - that are not designed with hot summers in mind.

Also, at least Houston has mild winters. DC has cold winters and hot summers - I wish the federal government would be based somewhere with a better climate.

Yeah, DC can be the worst of both worlds, but some years you get at least one season that is pretty mild. Also, the majority of places in DC do have central A/C now. And in the suburbs almost everyone seems to have it.

Certainly the vast majority of DC office buildings have central air - but residences? Is there any data on that?

I see lots of window A/C units sticking out of townhouses and apartment buildings in even tony neighborhoods like Woodley Park and Georgetown. Sure, they are old neighborhoods, but you'd think with the sky-high prices you'd get central air.

Even if your house and office in DC have good, central A/C - WMATA certainly doesn't. I don't know how big public transit is in Houston (or how they deal with A/C) but in FL you are unlikely find yourself sweating in a subway car. (Not good for the environment, but good to keep cool).


What you are seeing in DC proper is the result of the expansion using the mid-Century Ugly or Soviet style housing and building. A lot of those were erected in the '70s with the "energy crisis" planning.

Basically, the building codes were the direct opposite of what the country was founded on, but very governmental with centralized control over heating and cooling, poor ventilation, etc. All very Soviet in architecture.

"Basically, the building codes were the direct opposite of what the country was founded on".
Do you mean slavery or stealing Indian lands?

I'm not aware of data. In my experience, the few places in DC that rely on window units for A/C are older, mid-size buildings that have been divided into a handful of apartments. Most row houses sold these days have central air, and all large apartment buildings I've been in, even the old ones, seem to have it. I'm sure there are pockets where it is less common, but I rarely encounter it.

The WMATA trains themselves have A/C. On the hottest days, I'm glad to reach the metro station because it means I can finally cool off. There is the occasional car where the air is broken, but I wouldn't say it is very common. The buses have air, too. I believe all of them.

I know there's some level of A/C in WMATA's metro and buses, but I think most people commuting in packed subways cars (I don't know how crowded buses get) don't think it's enough to keep it cool at those times.

And in DC, yes you may get one more mild season, but even then you're definitely getting 1 bad season compared to Houston's 1 bad season. More likely, you'll get 2 bad seasons. It seems to me to be a bad place to pick if you dislike cold winters or hot, humid summers. Unfortunately, I don't think the decision to make it America's capital really thought much about the climate's desirability, or foresaw the invention of A/C.

But I think the bigger point is migration - where are people moving to? Some people may love places with colder winters, but it seems in general, people are flocking toward warmer climates.

The breakpoint is at 70 F, not 90 F. From the paper: "I find limited evidence of temperature effects on hedonic state in low temperatures and strong evidence of a sharp decline in hedonic state above 70◦F. The difference in hedonic state between 60-70◦F and 80-90◦F is significant and comparable in size to the average difference in hedonic state between Sundays and Mondays."

I would be surprised if hedonic state didn't *increase* from 65 F to 85 F, let alone decline by more than the decline from, say, 40 F to 20 F (20 F change). How can there be only a "limited" effect at low temperatures??!! The negative tweets they detect at 70 F must be people complaining that they are at work instead of at the beach. That would explain why they think it's like the difference between Sunday and Monday.

Well if the breakpoint is at 70 , then it's a bit unfair to compare 60-70 (less than 10 degrees below breakpoint) to 80-90 (at least 10 degrees above breakpoint. I would agree that 60-70 is more pleasant than 80-90, but I'm not sure if 60-70 is more pleasant than 70-80.
Anyway, there's no reason why the trend need be linear or symmetric. There could be a sharp drop below 50 than's even steeper than the one above 70.

I agree. If they are claiming that the break point is 70, then they should be looking at the decline at that point. Comparing 80-90 to 60-70 is really capturing the decine in the 80s and high 70s. I also agree that there probably is a sharp drop below 50, but the author's claim is that there is only "limited evidence of temperature effects" at low temperatures. I would be willing to believe that temperature doesn't affect *tweets* at low temperatures.

That sounds like winter in Boston.

I've lived in both Boston and Texas (Dallas). I still prefer Boston to Texas, because at least you can escape cold by putting on more clothes and enjoying the outdoors. In a Texas summer, which is often 5 months long, you can't comfortably do much of anything outside, no matter what you wear. Obviously tolerance of cold and quite varies quite a bit from person to person and I admit even Boston has a few sticky days in summer, but to me it's no contest--the colder climate often wins.

People born in the north can deal with cold winters but not hot summers. People born in the south are the opposite. This is not rocket science.

Obviously that is one factor, but it's not THE factor. There are plenty of people born in the cold and hate it their whole lives and vice versa. See: snowbirds heading south ASAP after retirement. Come on, now.

People retire in Florida and Arizona, not Canada. That should tell you something.

Something like my mother would have retired in New England, where she was born, as compared to the hell she considered Northern Virginia, much less Florida?

I think it's cute that people think Jan approaches this from anything other than blue state good/ red state bad.

There are some negatives with cold weather which cannot be ameliorated by putting on more clothes.

It wasn't until several years after moving from Boston to Los Angeles, when I happened to be walking in New Mexico in January, that I had a flashback to life in New England: we were walking along a trail and there were patches of ice and I almost slipped on one.

Much like Proust's madeleines, that temporary loss of balance brought a flood of memories back, and it was only then that I realized the number one thing that I hated about winters in New England and the midwest: you can't walk, without fear of slipping and falling.

Even when property owners are diligent about shoveling and sanding the sidewalks and driveways, the daytime thaw means there will be sheets of water which will freeze overnight resulting in zamboni-slick walking surfaces everywhere. I slipped and fell once every winter until I finally learned to walk slowly and carefully like a toddler or a penguin. Hated it hated it hated it.

It wasn't until years later that I learned there are devices such as YakTrax and Stabilicers that you can put on your shoes to improve traction. But I never saw anyone using those during the years I lived in the frigid zones.

Other strong dislikes: in theory you can add clothing when needed. In practical terms, I'd go from 10 deg F weather on the sidewalks of Boston into a subway station at maybe 65 degs and then a subway car jammed with human bodies and humid air at maybe 80 degs; it is almost impossible to repeatedly peel off and add on layers quickly enough, especially in a subway car where you can't even move your arms. Being a student who constantly had to go in and out of buildings throughout the day worsened the experience (though, as a student, at least I could wear practical clothes and hiking boots rather than office clothes).

Wearing eyeglasses adds to the fun, when they fog up when you walk from a cold low humidity environment to a warm humid one.

Hot weather rarely causes the streets to become non-navigable and the public transportation system to shut down. Blizzards do that routinely, for that matter they make much of the city shut down.

The one thing that made life bearable in the midwest and New England? Knowing that I would eventually move away from those places.

But it is a good thing that people's preferences vary. Otherwise the upper midwest and northeast would have the population density of Greenland.

All things being equal, people tend to prefer warmer climates near an ocean.

If you're surrounded by ocean, as in Hawaii, that has a moderating influence on temperature. Hawaii is never too hot nor too cold, San Francisco is always brisk but very seldom freezing. I probably could get used to living in SF, but I'd rather live in Hawaii. Right now, I'm in SIlicon Valley, and I hate the weather -- too hot summers and too cold winters -- but I am aware most of North America is much worse.

A saving grace of the California coast is that at night the land cools and as it contracts it sucks air from the ocean inland, so hot summer days alternate with cool nights. If you have a large fan, you can capture the cool air early in the morning and be comfortable all day without air conditioning. I visited Boston on business in the middle of summer many years ago, and I was amazed that it was still nearly 100 degrees in the middle of the night.

Seventy degrees Fahrenheit is about twenty-one degrees Celsius. What is warm about it?


At that temperature, I'm wearing a coat, and trying hard not to go outside.

Yes, true, here in the Philippines the mean year round temperature is about 85 F, and it does not change much year round. But the people are polite, so, 'adjusting for temperature' the Filipinos are the most polite race on earth.

"Seventy degrees Fahrenheit is about twenty-one degrees Celsius. What is warm about it?"

Well it's warm enough to not need a jacket. But we keep our house temperature around 72.

70 and sunshine can be quite nice if it is relatively warmer than the recent average. And can be a welcome break after weeks of 90s. It is also quite nice at night if there is humidity holding the heat of the day.

70, clouds and wind, is very cold.

Yeah, don't even mention the winds.

"Well it’s warm enough to not need a jacket. But we keep our house temperature around 72."
Fair enough, but people are talking about it like twenty-one degrees Celsius were Dr. Jekyll's secret formula (to be fair, maybe "the Doctor and the Monster"--it is how the story is called in Brazil-- are the same person in more than one way:, as if Civilization as we know it were impossible if it is warmer than 21 Celsius degrees. It is usually warmer than this in Brazil, and we have been striving to build a Civilization here for Centuries and any time now we will be done with it.

And yet holidaying Canadians flee to the tropics to distress.

I once heard (don't know truth of it) that in Israel airco's in cars are not taxed, because of traffic safety considerations.


There are places that specifically tax a/c in cars?

Initial sale and coolant recharges seem like two times they might currently be taxed.

I understand the added cost of the a/c is calculated in the sales tax but is there really a separate "a/c tax?"

What they should tax is all those guys stopped in the middle of the road talking to a pedestrian while a line of cars behind them lean on their horns

It may vary with race. Do white people suffer the heat more, whereas black people mellow in the sun? Are the Inuit best-adapted for cold weather? Paging Steve Sailer.

Maybe they just haven't controlled for weather. A cool, clear, high-pressure day will generate better moods than a warmer but wetter low-pressure day. I'm grumpier on a cloudy wet day than on a clear dry day.

No, but adaptation to the environment does matter. I've seen people pass out from heat stroke in temperatures that make me lean toward putting on a sweater. Lady in my office moved from Buffalo last year. She's now chilly when it hits 60 like the rest of us around here. Suffered when she went home for the holidays in what they consider mild winter weather. Not ready to play beach volleyball in the 90s, but getting there.

And race has nothing to do with it from what I've seen. Just time (my family have been Southerners since the census of 1790) and exposure.

Hi, I'm on call for Steve today.

What you're seeing is not them being mellow; they're being shifty.

Is it just me, or is it really odd to use Fahrenheit rather than Celsius in a scientific/academic paper?

Just you, and somewhere above 6.5 billion people.

But in all fairness, there are a couple of things that make the American system relevant, at least to people familiar with it. In Germany, for example, there is absolutely no equivalent to the idea of a scale like high, mid, or low temperatures as a decimal scale. Celsius simply uses too large an interval for such a useful American framework, but really, the high 80s or low 80s says something that people in Germany have no experience of, apparently (if the opinion of several other Americans living here is to be trusted, of course).

Though it remains amusing to tell Germans, in German, that today will be 90° according to the forecast - the scales are really quite different, in that 90° is truly a sauna temperature (again, where FKK is essentially the expected norm, if not mandatory, for mixed, goverment supported saunas), and not merely a metaphorical DC expression.

Centigrade is quite handy. Below zero, cold. Nought to ten, cool. Ten to twenty, mild. Twenty to twenty-five, warm. Twenty-five to thirty, hot. Over thirty, it's that bleeding' global warming, innit? This scale works for the south of England.

Centigrade is fine, but calling for 15ml in a kitchen recipe is madness.

"Just you, and somewhere above 6.5 billion people."

It's always weird to see people who use part of the SI standard, but not all, complain about people who use less of the SI standard. I don't know anybody that routinely uses the SI standard, it's always some portion that's convenient, but not the portions that aren't.

'I don’t know anybody that routinely uses the SI standard'

Welcome to EU high school education, including the UK.

German schools don't use the SI standard for all measurements. I actually don't know of any group that does. So again, it's a case of relativism and it's pretty silly.

Ask a Brit their height and weight.
They may even give their weight in stone.

I made this argument when a guy who was reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for a series on NPR got to "T" and discussed the entry for temperature. The encyclopedia reader made fun of Fahrenheit as a stupid metric while I, living in Japan which uses Celsius, defended it. They read my little defense on the air a week later so now the world knows why smaller intervals help: you have an idea what it is like outside when you hear it will be in the 80s as opposed to the 70s or the 60s, etc.

Fahrenheit is 1.8x more precise. It should be the standard.

But then people like prior_pest can't show America how much they really aren't obsessed with America by boisterously advertising how they use a different form of measurement. Without Centrigrade people might notice that for a continent than claims to never notice the US they sure wear a ton of American products, eat a ton of BigMacs, drink a ton of Coke, and watch a ton of Speilberg movies.

'Do you get grumpy when it is warmer than seventy degrees Fahrenheit?'

No - but the currently absurd air conditioning in the U.S. is awful. Strangely enough, Lidl in Germany has started to imitate this, meaning that it is likely that some market researcher discovered a positive correlation between sales and freezing customers.

Water temperature at seventy two degrees Fahrenheit, air temperature at anywhere above the mid-80s Fahrenheit, a cloudless East Coast day on the beach, lake, or river from June til August - paradise on Earth. Southern Germany can only realistically hope to reach this a couple of weeks per summer - though FKK is a real plus of a southern German Baggersee.

Water at 72 degF would give me hypothermia in about 10 minutes.

Re: absurd air conditioning -- I worked offshore in the gulf, and the inside temperature was kept intentionally around 65 in order to limit/prevent bacterial growth. I suspect this rationale also applies to other enclosed spaces where lots of people congregate.

'Water at 72 degF would give me hypothermia in about 10 minutes.'
To which can only be said 'wimp' - neither Brandywine nor Somerset (near Prof. Cowen's neighborhood) would have have blinked at such temps - as for Starlight pool, well, there is a reason why Woodson was nationally ranked for swimming inthe 80s, and it was not exactly related to your concept of water temperature.

One of my more vivid memories from Goshen scout camp (yep, I'wfÄm an Eagle scout) is an an 11 year old doin 3 miles of butterfly at the lake as an easy bet - it being less than than his normal training routine across the road from Frost.

"Water at 72 degF would give me hypothermia in about 10 minutes."

The charts say it takes 3 -12 hours from 70-80 degree. So presumably most people with normal builds and body fat can go about 3 hours at 72 degree before experiencing hypothermia.

Depends on sunshine - but there is definitely a point where blue lips are a true indicator, like red eyes, that one's summer pool experience is done for the day/evening, at least in Fairfax County in July.

Just a few months before some guys published in Nature the following:

"Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s (ref. 2). Standard values for one of its primary variables—metabolic rate—are based on an average male, and may overestimate female metabolic rate by up to 35% (ref. 3). This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females.......In general, females prefer a higher room temperature than males in home and office situations, and mean values may differ as much as 3 K (males: 22 °C versus females: 25 °C; refs 6, 7)"

It seems that body fat % is the cause of why women prefer higher temps. Muscle cell produce more heat than fat cells. thus the % of cells producing relatively more heat is lower in women.

So, what's more accurate? Metabolic rate studies that says half of population is happier at 25C/77F or quantifying tweets about discomfort above 70F? No surprise, the study comes from a Business School.

Also a couple anecdotes: a) any married guy has had the discussion at home at which is the right AC temp setting, b) men in general do not have and wear according to seasons. Society expectations of the proper business attire is the same at 40 or -20 Celsius. Shorts are informal but wearing a suit above 25 Celsius is idiotic. Those angry tweets could not exist if the guys were in shorts.

What I find amazing is how sensitive I am to just very small differences in temperature. 25 DegC is too warm for me for sleeping comfortably, but 24 Dec C is too cold at least without a blanket, and I object to paying for AC only to offset it. Often though you will find AC controllers are controllable in 1 deg differences, which makes the Fahrenheit scale actually better if I set it for 76 Deg F that is perfect for me with just a sheet.

Yes, this is exactly what puzzles me. I imagine if we polled most people, they set their thermostates above 70 summer and winter. Though this probably varies a lot in different parts of the country and humidity levels.

I grew up in the South before air conditioning was widely used. Indeed, neither our house nor any schools I attended were air conditioned. Houses had more windows, windows almost always open. I remember lying in bed in the cool sheets on warm summer nights listening to the sounds of the critters outside. And I remember when many houses had "sleeping porches", with screens rather than walls, and some houses had enormous attic fans that would circulate air in the house, creating drafts that would unexpectedly slam a door shut as if by a ghost. And I remember when every town had an ice house (the place that made and sold ice), many offering home deliveries (like milk and eggs), a scary place where muscular men would emerge from the smoke-filled freezer carrying large blocks of ice they would break into smaller pieces using a chisel or put into a machine that loudly and violently crushed the ice. And I remember in the evenings when the air was still and we would go outside where it was cooler and we would visit with neighbors until the sun set. The heat had the effect of merging the inside and the outside and bringing neighbors together. Indeed, most residential neighborhoods had sidewalks because people spent so much time outside. Unlike today, when the combination of heat and air conditioning isolates people inside and few if any neighborhoods have sidewalks.

In the Las Vegas of my youth, most residential cooling was done by swamp coolers, which was very effective and comfortable in the desert. To cool a room, you would open the window so the cooled, humidified air would enter through the door and pass through. I still like the feel of evaporative cooling better than closed loop refrigeration, and it's a lot cheaper, but the preference of most now in Las Vegas is an air-tight house with AC.

Thanks for this insight, rayward. I've long speculated that AC had a negative effect on socialization. The suburbs are now a form of cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon helpless youths who grow up socially atrophied from pure lack of social contact. Less kids, less neighborhood interaction, smaller families, single parents -- it all leads to essentially un-socialized people. Play-dates and driving to soccer practice are about the most depressing, horrible things we could do to kids.

"Play-dates" being the modern parlance for going over to another kid's house

The suburbs didn't kill that. The nanny state society did. Growing up in the summer, kids were expected/allowed to leave the house in the morning and it wasn't considered unusual not to come home till dinner in the evening. Some kids might call Mom, to let them know they were eating lunch at another house, but that would be about the only check in expected. Now, that kind of behavior could potentially land the parents in trouble with Child Protective Services.

"Mom Jailed for Letting Her 9 y.o. Play at Park Unsupervised (And Daughter In State Custody)"

Absolutely not. I enjoy being outside when it is 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is my favorite temperature range outside. I am extremely grumpy when it is cold; when temperatures are as they are now in the DC area, I complain about them virtually every day.

I suppose I could be an outlier.

Twitter is not data. Its not a representative sample of anything meaningful. Stop acting like anything that happens on twitter is in any way important.

Absolutely - I can't stand the proliferation of pop academia using these bullshit data sets.

Aren't cold temperatures significantly more deadly? That is, don't more people die in the cold than the hot? I remember reading a paper that concluded that a portion of the increase in life expectancy in the US was due to migration to the South.

Yes - at least for "weather-related deaths" rather than longevity. The Lancet has a widely cited paper putting the figure at 20:1 cold weather deaths to hot weather deaths

otoh - stats, the lancet and all that

Many years ago, I read a posting from someone who claimed to have worked in the ER in a hospital in Calgary. He said they always called the first big snow of the season "heart attack weather" because shovelling that snow can be the first big exertion a man has had in quite a while, exacerbated by the cold (vasoconstriction drives up blood pressure) and the muscles being exercised (the arteries feeding the arms are about three times smaller than the ones feeding the legs).

The Daily Mail backs me up on this.

Hmm, these sound like the words of a lifelong California resident. There's nothing incorrect in what you're saying, but the link between snow shoveling and heart attacks has been common knowledge in snowier climates for decades.

E.g. typing "heart attack snow" in google leads to article after article about heart attacks and snow shoveling.

And this WAPO reporter has resorted to copying and pasting his own article, basically turning it into annual snow-shovel-heart-attack boilerplate.

There are certain truisms that people in colder climates know by heart: watch out for heart attacks while shoveling snow. Don't lick metal that's been standing outside (see the movie "A Christmas Story"); at cold enough temps don't even touch metal with bare skin. Carry kitty litter in your car (in addition to a windshield scraper). Don't eat yellow snow.

Maybe they're "hangry." It's a known fact that warmer temperatures increase insulin sensitivity.

Is there any doubt that the marginal value of this "knowledge" is exceeded by its marginal cost? Thank you, higher education subsidies. Conventional wisdom is surely no substitute for high science such as this.

Interesting, very original!

And yet, simply the big data version of WEIRD.

The invention of the air-conditioner changed everything.

70 degrees? Really?

I find 70 cold and don't really get unhappy until the temperature is above 80.
But really I think it's pretty easy to see that humanity fares better in hot climates. Just look at where the people live.
Warm weather means abundant food. Population density is higher in hotter places than in colder places.

In the early '90s, I worked at a small facility in Hawaii that was kept below 70 for the computers and electronics, not to mention some of the Yankees in positions of power. I would become very grumpy as I froze until I get up and go outside in the 80+ sunshine where my mood improved immensely.

Years later in Seattle, the complaints were rabid when in August the temperature finally got above 80. I thought it was very nice, with little humidity (I grew up in the interior South so I know 90% humidity in 90 degree weather). Seattle was one of those places where a few of the older restaurants advertised that they had air conditioning.... although rarely used.

I suspect further research would need to control for what the individual is used to as well as humidity change.

I'm surprised there's almost no mention so far of humidity. Given low humidity and a bit of a breeze even the 80s are quite pleasant. But with high humidity and still air, seventy can be unpleasant too.

The paper referenced does factor in humidity.

If you dumped the population of Juarez into Winnipeg, would they grow more polite on Twitter? Are the citizens of Detroit more polite than Denver? Seems like there may be some factors that aren't controlled for, probably on purpose.

Comments for this post are closed