Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Matthew Yglesias says weather doesn't matter

I just caught up with his Valentine to Minneapolis:

People appear to be deterred from moving to Minneapolis on the grounds that it's very cold, but David Schkade and Daniel Kahneman have found that people's thinking about weather and happiness is dominated by "focusing illusion" in which "easily observed and distinctive differences between locations are given more weight in such judgments than they will have in reality." They specifically looked at the weather gap between California and the Midwest and found that while Midwesterners thought the good weather in California would make a huge difference in people's lives, it doesn't in reality.
OK, maybe I am idiosyncratic.  But as a person who lived most of his life in Wisconsin (not as cold as Minnesota), and who now lives in California, I can tell you the three reasons I will most likely never leave this place:

(1) My wife does cool and useful things here.
(2) I like the people I work with very much.
(3) Weather.


Unknown said...

As someone who went to college in Minnesota but who grew up in Southern California and now lives in Los Angeles, I also have firsthand experience of the issues at hand. First of all, Minneapolis is a fantastic city (as is Saint Paul), I loved living in Minnesota, and I would not be averse to living there again. When people hear that I went to college in Minnesota, they often inform me that it is cold there. Though it is true that it is colder in Minnesota than in California, that was not a defining aspect of my life there. So far, my experience bears out the idea that a focusing illusion is clouding perceptions of life in Minnesota.

Still, the weather might deter me from moving back to Minnesota now. The study was conducted on college students, many of whom live in dorms or close to campus, and are only responsible for themselves. The daily responsibilities of post-college adult life are amplified by extreme whether. Getting up early to warm up the car before the daily commute to work, scraping the windshield, shoveling snow, paying the heating bills, fixing the roof, fixing burst pipes, cleaning up the salt and grit tracked into the house, bundling and unbundling children every time they go outside... the sheer amount of work required to live in a place with cold weather is enormous.

Now, whether this bigger workload translates to lower life satisfaction is still debatable, but I'd rather not test it out if I can help it.

Richard Green said...

Sarah: Minneapolis is indeed a wonderful city. Great music, great theater...could use better restaurants though. But could I live there anymore? Don't think so.

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