The psychology of snow

Tuesday 30 October 2012

One of the ways to develop critical thinking is to try to think like a psychologist about a current topic in the news.  For example, how does the warning of a major hurricane in the Northeast affect how people behave? How will the debates actually affect the US elections?  Or it can be something a bit more mundane. 

Here is an example of a prompt that I used with my students this week.  It was the result of a very early and unexpected snowfall here in the Czech Republic.

Discuss the psychology of snow.

From this prompt, we came up with a lot of good ideas and a lot of questions for further research. Here is a list of what we came up with.  Can you add any more

  • Snow is associated with positive feelings - like Christmas.  It gives us a sense of anticipation.
  • Snow is associated with negative feelings - like Christmas.  It gives us a sense of dread.
  • It helps our mental health because it counters the darkness.
  • It may lead to depression in the elderly as they may feel that it is now unsafe to go outside. Therefore, they stay inside and feel isolated and lonely.
  • Snow is a sign of winter.  Winter makes us hungry - we want to eat more carbohydrates.  Maybe we want to hypernate like animals.
  • Snow reminds us of Christmas and shopping.  Could shopping also be linked to our desire to hybernate?
  • Snow leads many people to stop exercising (e.g. runners).  This leads to feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • A feeling of a need to escape.  Planning trips away from the snow makes us feel really good - maybe a dopamine rush.
  • Does being cold make us feel more depressed?  If so, why?

As you can see from the list, this gives us a lot to think about and to research. In fact, if you go online, you will be surprised to find many articles on the psychology of snow. Here is a little video to keep you thinking.

Tags: critical thinking, snow, mental health


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