Temperature versus political transparency: Does heat corrupt us?

Robert R. Stewart


Human discomfort increases at elevated temperatures (above about 27 or 81). Higher temperatures impact our ability to work accurately and productively as well as to learn. Irritability and inclination to anger can increase, too. Transparency International is an organization that evaluates countries according to their political transparency a value that attempts to capture the perceived extent of corruption. There appears to be a general correlation between transparency and the latitude of the country's capital: countries farther away from the equator are mostly rated as less corrupt. Ambient temperature is related to latitude and may be an underlying driver of transparency. Human relations and abilities are challenged by heat, and perhaps so is overall governance which may explain some of the correlation between corruption and temperature. If this is so, there may be a partial cure: widespread use of air-conditioning.

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