Nice one SUN: How a sunny day brings out the Good Samaritan in us

  • Researchers discovered people more willing to help others on sunny days
  • In cloudy weather, nearly half passed by on the other side of street when they saw a stranger drop a glove

By Mark Howarth

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Gambolling lambs and a host of golden daffodils are sure signs that spring has sprung... as is the urge to help complete strangers, apparently.

Researchers have discovered that people are more willing to play the Good Samaritan on sunny days.

A team of French academics charted the reactions of hundreds of pedestrians faced with the dilemma of what to do when a stranger drops a glove.

Spring has sprung: Daffodils are one sign that Spring is here

Spring has sprung: Daffodils are one sign that Spring is here. Researchers have also found that people are more willing to help each other when the weather improves

In cloudy weather, nearly half passed by on the other side of the street, but when it was sunny, two thirds were glad to help.

The experiments were carried out in two French town centres in dry summer conditions so that the only variable was the degree of cloud cover.

 

A researcher walked ahead of random passers-by and pretended to accidentally drop a glove. When the sun was out, 156 out of 239 strangers – 65.3 per cent – offered their help. However, when it was dull, only 120 of 225 people intervened – 53.3 per cent.

The report from the Universities of Paris South and Southern Brittany, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, says: ‘The difference was statistically significant. Spontaneous help is offered more easily on predominantly sunny days.’

Peter Foot, of the National Campaign for Courtesy, said: ‘When one pulls open the curtains in the morning, it can quite often set the tone for the whole day.

A sunny day can give 'a natural fillip to the soul and send one out of the house full of bonhomie and ready to offer a smile to strangers'

A sunny day can give 'a natural fillip to the soul and send one out of the house full of bonhomie and ready to offer a smile to strangers'

‘Some people are particularly badly affected if it is dark, grey and dull. On the other hand, a beautiful sunny morning can give a natural fillip to the soul and send one out of the house full of bonhomie and ready to offer a smile to strangers.’

But he said people should not let the weather dictate their willingness to put themselves out for others, adding: ‘The vast majority of people are good and intend to be nice to others.

‘So I am disappointed so many in these experiments chose not to offer their help. It’s a sad reflection on modern society.

‘We have perhaps lost many of the social graces which used to be prominent. Many people tend to avoid eye contact and are embarrassed to talk to strangers.’

Other research has already shown that people are more positive, sociable and leave bigger tips in restaurants in good weather, while low levels of vitamin D – which is only produced by human skin under direct sunlight – are linked to depression and fatigue.

 

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

It's a sweet theory but did it occur to them that, with higher light levels, it might simply be that more people noticed the falling glove on the sunny day?

Click to rate     Rating   3

Yesterday when hanging out my washing I felt the first rays of actual warm sun. I turned my face to it like some little flower and felt that primal happiness that ancient man must have felt at the start of Spring. There is no feeling like it. It's like being reborn every year.

Click to rate     Rating   12

Not too long to the season of hayfever, wasp-stings and drought then. Must saythough, that sunshine, blue skies and trees and bushes coming into bud's always a pleasure to see. Perhaps it's the annual re-emergence of nature after winter that appeals. As for the experiment, I'm inclined to think it's a case of one's personal character in whether they bother to help compared to anything else, and the frame of mind they're in on any given day.

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Mdennyn, India ; "In sunflower feild in sunny day in winter feels G R E A T." A sunflower field in winter?

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Can somebody buy Cameron a sunlamp ?

Click to rate     Rating   16

During sunny days I sometimes regress to some of my happy childhood memories.

Click to rate     Rating   22

I've always felt the UK to be a much nicer place on a warm sunny day - just wish there were more of them ;)

Click to rate     Rating   36

How would they know ??... I cannot remember seeing the sun in the South West of England for ages. !!

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Vitamin D3 is the Human Race's best friend.

Click to rate     Rating   19

Has anyone noticed we had perhaps two completely sunny days last year? All the other sunny days started out pristine and blue, until non-CAA aircraft spread white muck EVERYWHERE. None of these spray planes show on ADS-B radar or on planefinder (which tracks all civil a/s in real time), but those that do appear on these systems- commercial craft - NEVER leave trails! What a funny coincidence! Now, everyone back to sleep please.

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