Climatic Ignition of Motivation

Evert Van de Vliert, Tom T. Postmes, Paul A. M. Van Lange

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Climatic demands of cold winters and hot summers help explain why, whereas poverty and riches help explain how, inhabitants adapt culturally to their place of residence, their habitat. Motivational goals, behavioral means, and behavioral outcomes differ systematically in the following four types of habitats: threatening (demanding, poor); unthreatening (undemanding, poor); unchallenging (undemanding, rich); and challenging (demanding, rich). Perhaps most notably, there are stepwise increases in freedom, individualism, cooperation and creativity from threatening to unthreatening to unchallenging to challenging habitats. Geographically viewed, north-south differences dwarf east-west differences in climatic demands and wealth resources, and thus in climato-economic habitats. As a consequence, north-south differences also dwarf east-west differences in motives and behaviors. Because of their climato-economic habitats, compared to southerners, northerners manifest higher levels of freedom, individualism, cooperation and creativity in the northern hemisphere, but lower levels of freedom, individualism, cooperation and creativity in the southern hemisphere. This pattern of findings contributes to the burgeoning field of latitudinal psychology—the long-term ambition to map and understand spatial variations of psychological phenomena along the north-south rather than the east-west axis of the Earth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Motivation Science
EditorsAndrew J. Elliot
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-817122-6
Publication statusPublished - 25-Feb-2019


  • climatic demands
  • wealth resources
  • climato-economic
  • cultural adaptations

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