Study Finds Bad Weather Clouds Judgment

By Hamodia Staff

Storm clouds on the horizon at the northern coastal city of Netanya. (Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – The latest research into how people form judgments indicates that the weather can color our perception of past experiences.

Dr. Yaniv Dover of the Federmann Center for the study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Yerushalayim in collaboration with Prof. Leif Brandes at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, surveyed 12 years of data and 3 million hotel bookings to examine how 340,000 anonymous online reviews of hotels were influenced by the weather on the day they were written

This was a far from simple evaluation that included matching between the booking made by the consumer and the written review, identifying the weather at the location of the reviewer, the star rating given, classification of vocabulary used to describe the stay, and the weather experienced during the stay at the hotel. The researchers also used a special statistical model that takes into account both the decision to provide a review and the content of the review.

The results showed conclusively that, on average, bad weather (rain or snow) reduced the reviewers’ evaluation of their past hotel experience sufficiently to nearly demote the hotel from a 5- to a 4-star rating. Bad weather also made reviewers write longer and more critical and detailed reviews. They also showed that on rainy days there was a higher chance of choosing to write a review and that the effect of weather on the review was independent of the weather they experienced during the hotel stay. The authors suggest that this effect may be because bad weather days trigger more negative memories, or induce a negative mood which colors the review.

This research is interesting in itself but has much wider implications because it shows, for the first time, how our external physical environment—in this case the weather—can be a factor in our judgments. Dover explains that this type of research “exposes an aspect of the dynamics of our new digital world… and can help policy makers frame policies to better engineer a more productive and healthy effect of online activities on our daily lives.”

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