Does the weather determine the outcome of the presidential election?

In the American presidential elections, warmer weather on election day is favourable for the sitting president or his party, says Jasper Van Assche of the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology.

'To predict voter behaviour, all kinds of ideological, psychological and sociological predictors are investigated. Non-rational factors also come into play. Professor Alain Van Hiel came up with the idea of investigating the effect of temperature differences. For all American presidential elections from 1960 to 2016, we collected data for all 50 states: voter turnout, results and relative temperature differences - i.e. from one election day to the next.

Jasper Van Assche

We've known for a long time that warmer weather affects our behaviour. It creates physical excitement and makes us more alert. Depending on the context that translates into anti-social behaviour such as riots or prosocial behaviour which makes people more helpful and generous. Our research shows that a temperature difference of 1 degree attracts 0.14 per cent more voters to the polling station. Those extra voters are angry, want change and vote for the opposition. On the other hand, warmer weather makes the global voter population more satisfied and benevolent, so that they choose the sitting president or his party. The net effect is positive for the ruling president. That effect is small, but in very narrow elections it can be decisive'.


Read also

“We are keen to make Ghent University a strong brand in the United States”

With a new Alumni Chapter in San Francisco, plus the Chapter in New York, Ghent University now has the opportunity to reach even more alumni in the US. After all, there are plenty of them. But what exactly are these two Alumni Chapters up to in the US? A discussion with the proud founding fathers Nicolas Polet and Wim Sohier.

Alumni Chapter VS

Suicide prevention game nominated for Belgian Game Awards

April 2021 saw the launch of Silver – a serious game with the aim of helping young people learn about mental health. Now, just a few months later, the game has been nominated for the Belgian Game Awards. We reflect on the journey so far, and discuss the next steps with Eva De Jaegere, who helped develop and do research for Silver.


Already giving up on those New Year’s Resolutions? This is how to keep them

To do a bit more sport, to eat a healthier diet and to try to put a bit more money aside. There is a good chance that you made some sort of list of good resolutions on 1st January this year, but that already, that list has become little more than a statement of good intentions. That’s not unusual, according to Professor Emelien Lauwerier. But the good news is that it’s still not too late to pick it up again, simply by adjusting your approach.


Giving a compliment is harder than it seems

Well-meaning compliments do not always achieve the desired effect. Professor Bart Soenens explains what to watch out for and the potential pitfalls in giving a compliment.