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.