The Association of Ambient Temperature and Violent Crime
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CitationTiihonen Jari. Halonen Pirjo. Tiihonen Laura. Kautiainen Hannu. Storvik Markus. Callaway James. (2017). The Association of Ambient Temperature and Violent Crime. Scientific Reports, 7, 6543. 10.1038/s41598-017-06720-z.
It is controversial if global warming will result into increased crime and conflict rate, and no causal neurobiological mechanisms have been proposed for the putative association between ambient temperature and aggressive behavior. This study shows that during 1996–2013, ambient temperature explained 10% of variance in the violent crime rate in Finland, corresponding to a 1.7% increase/degree centigrade. Ambient temperature also correlated with a one month delay in circannual changes in peripheral serotonin transporter density among both offenders and healthy control subjects, which itself correlated strongly with the monthly violent crime rate. This suggests that rise in temperature modulates serotonergic transmission which may increase impulsivity and general human activity level, resulting into increase in social interaction and risk of violent incidents. Together, these results suggest that the effect of ambient temperature on occurrence of violent crime is partly mediated through the serotonergic system, and that a 2 °C increase in average temperatures would increase violent crime rates by more than 3% in non-tropical and non-subtropical areas, if other contributing factors remained constant.