What Does Your Favorite Season Say About Your Personality?

How Seasonal Changes Impact Mood and Behavior

Seasons of the year
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Does a particular season of the year appeal to you more than others? Some people love the long, warm days of summer while others revel in the chillier days of autumn. Why is it that some seasons speak to us more than others? Could psychology explain our seasonal preferences?

Why Do We Sometimes Prefer Certain Seasons?

While there is little research looking specifically at the psychology of seasonal preferences, researchers have found that seasonal changes in temperature and light can have an impact on moods and behaviors.

One study even suggested that the month in which a person is born might be correlated with later personality.

Those born in the spring and summer months, for example, were more likely to have excessively positive temperaments and were more likely to experience rapid shifts in mood. Those born during the winter months, on the other hand, were less likely to have irritable temperaments.

While it might seem odd, psychologists have long recognized the powerful influence that seasons and can have on mood. The shorter months of winter are known for sometimes causing people to experience seasonal affective disorder, also known as the "winter blues." Research has also shown that the onset of spring can actually lead to a temporary boost in positivity depending on how much time an individual spends outdoors. The surprising results of one study even found that people who were in utero during the summer months were more likely to die from heart disease during the winter season later in life.

Any sort of scientific explanation for our personal love of any particular season must also take geographic differences into consideration. Some Western states tend to have cold fall months that quickly turn to snow. Many Eastern states, on the other hand, often experience milder autumn weather that showcases the glorious and colorful transition from summer to fall.

Where we live and the weather typical of that region can play a significant role in season preference.

The Weather Connection

Cold weather might influence our moods, but researchers have also found that dropping temperatures can have an effect on behavior as well. For example, room temperatures can affect how people judge criminal suspects. In one 2014 study, people in hot rooms were more likely to perceive accused criminals as impulsive and hot-headed, while those in cold rooms were more likely to view suspects as having committed cold-blooded, premeditated crimes.

It turns out that temperatures can have a subtle yet profound impact on the judgments' we make about other people. One 2008 study found that when people are holding a hot beverage, they are more likely to see others as warmer and more personable. Holding a cold drink, on the other hand, led participants to perceive others as interpersonally colder.

Light Can Play a Role

It's no secret that light can have a significant influence on your mood.

Bright, sunny days may leave you feeling happy and energized while dark, dreary days may cause you to feel gloomy and uninspired. Light might also play a part in your personal preferences for particular seasons of the year. Your body's circadian rhythm, or the roughly 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleepiness, is influenced by sunlight. Decreasing amounts of sunlight cause the body to release hormones that trigger periods of lethargy.

A lack of sunlight during the fall and winter months is linked to what is known as seasonal affective disorder. People who experience symptoms of this disorder may feel depressed during the darker, shorter days of the year and lose interest in activities they usually enjoy. They may also experience other symptoms such as increased fatigue and appetite.

Those who are affected by SAD may prefer the sunnier spring and summer months when they are less likely to be impacted by symptoms of this seasonal disorder. People with SAD may find it helpful to increase their exposure to sunlight each day and to try light box therapy.

What Does Your Favorite Season Say About You?

Temperature and light levels may play a role in determining which season you love the most, but could your personal preferences also reveal something about your underlying personality? Here are just a few possible tendencies that your favorite season might show about you.

  • Spring: For some parts of the world, spring is when the short, dark days of winter give way to warming temperatures and greener outdoor spaces. If spring is your favorite season, then you might crave new experiences and the spring season offers the chance of renewal that you need after a long, cold winter.
  • Summer: In many regions of the world, summer is all about longer, warmer, brighter days. If summer is your favorite time of year, it might mean that you love getting out and living an active lifestyle. The warm months of summer are a time to travel and enjoy the outdoors. You probably tend to be on the outgoing, extroverted side and people likely describe you as upbeat, personable, and assertive.
  • Fall: "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns," George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans) once wrote of her affection for the fall season. While parts of the world tend to think of spring as the season of renewal, fall is also a very good time for a fresh start. The vibrant colors and cooler weather of autumn appeal to your constant desire for change. The upcoming holidays inspire many to reflect back on the year that was and make plans for the year to come.
  • Winter: If you count the chilly months of winter as your favorite season of all, it might mean that you tend to be a bit of an introverted homebody. Donning a warm sweater and curling up on the couch with a hot beverage to escape the cold might sound like your idea of an ideal afternoon.

Final Thoughts

Seasonal changes in light and temperature can play a major role in how we think, feel, and behave. It is important to remember, however, that our individual preferences may be influenced by a wide variety of factors including our experiences. If you grew up enjoying the outdoors during summer months and have pleasant memories of the summer season, then it may be more likely that you will also love summer as an adult. Our preferences, including those for certain times of the year, are complex and likely influenced by a wide array of interacting factors.

Sources

Gockel, C., Kolb, P.M., & Werth, L. Murder or not? Cold temperature makes criminals appear to be cold-blooded and warm temperature to be hot-headed. PLoS One. 2014; 30(9): e96231. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096231.

Gonda, X., Erdos, P., Ormos, M., & Rihmer, Z. Season of birth shows a significant impact on the distribution of affective temperaments in nonclinical population. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014;24(2): 345.

Keller, M.C, et al. A warm heart and a clear head: The contingent effects of weather on mood and cognition. Psychological Science. 2005;16(9): 724-731.

Khazan, O. How birth season affect personality. The Atlantic. 2014, Oct. 22. 

Williams, L.E. & Bargh, J.A. Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science. 2008; 322(5901):606-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1162548.

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