Weather you like it or not, the sun has changed you
How has the heatwave affected our behaviour, mood and spending habits over the past week?
Taking the plunge at the Pollock Holes in Kilkee, Co Clare, was 12-year-old Alex Stewart. Photograph: Alan Place
It’s hot out there, but aside from sweaty foreheads and a demand for ice tea, what does that actually mean for our day-to-day lives, from our mood in the workplace to how our pets are coping with the heat?
“Once you convince yourself you’re in holiday mode, you behave differently”
Karen Hand is a social psychologist from Trinity College’s School of Psychology and co-curator of the 2012 National Happiness Experiment. In that experiment, “we didn’t find any mood change in weather. However, we had incredibly little sunshine during the six weeks we did it. We didn’t have anything like we have now.”
Instead, Hand points to behavioural psychology that looks at people’s demeanour on holiday. “That’s more relevant to the behaviour we’re seeing at the moment. People are very much in holiday mode. And once you convince yourself you’re in holiday mode, you behave in totally different patterns and spend in different patterns.”
Interactions change, which has an impact on romantic relationships. “There is this literal reality that when there is more daylight and more heat, you want to be outside. Therefore the opportunities to meet other people become higher. For single people that’s the attraction of the beer garden and of festivals. There is opportunity to bump into people on a dating and romantic level.”
So as the opportunities to be social increase, types of social behaviour also change: “In our minds we want summer to be about casualness and informality. Good weather facilitates the impromptu whereas winter social rituals are more planned.”
“There’s a big drop on the first weekend, but then it picks up”
Tom Lawlor is the marketing manager at the Light House Cinema in Smithfield. Ireland has a huge cinema-going audience, but the box office takes a hit when outdoor activities suddenly become available.
“Every cinema in the country experiences a drop when the weather is good like this,” Lawlor says. “We’re kind of weird though, because we don’t depend on big summer films. They take a huge hit. So we’ll see a drop, but then we’ll counter that with loads of events.”
Lawlor also says that one-off weekends of heat impact cinemas more than longer periods of sunshine.
“It seems that in weather like this where there’s a prolonged spell, initially there’s a big drop on the first weekend, but then it picks back up because people like the idea of sitting in a dark, air-conditioned room. So I think that’s what we’ll see this weekend. But ultimately, I’m too hot to comment.”
“Argos are sold out of deckchairs”
Don Nugent, is the centre director Dundrum Town Centre. While shopping might not appeal to those keen so soak up the sun, items specific to the hot weather are drawing shoppers in.
“The sunny weather had been fantastic for our customers and retailers alike. The vast majority of our stores are in sale, so the sunny weather has meant that customers on the hunt for shorts and sun dresses are getting fantastic bargains.
“Popular items are most definitely the aforementioned warm weather fashion, as well as things like BBQ equipment from retailers like Argos, picnic baskets and blankets from Next and Marks & Spencer, and outdoor toys and games from Art & Hobby and Hamleys. We’re reliably informed that Argos are currently sold out of deck-chairs. Sunscreen is flying off the shelves in both Boots and McCabes Pharmacy, while our nail bars are telling us that there’s been a leap in bookings for pedicures.”