This one goes into the great-conversation-starter category of sports-related studies. Researchers at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business wanted to determine whether high temperatures increase aggressive behavior in baseball pitchers. Not only did they find a link between the two, they found that only a specific type of aggressive behavior is increased: that of retribution or revenge.
The Research and Results
The professional baseball season runs from April to October, spanning Spring, Summer and Fall. In any given season, as many as 1,549 batters are beaned by a pitcher, the equivalent of .64 beans per game. Whenever a player is hit by a pitch, it's almost impossible to know for sure whether it was intentional or accidental, and many players and fans subscribe to the "hit for a hit" mentality, where if a pitcher hits a batter, it's fair game for the opposing team to bean a player, too.
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Researchers compiled and analyzed data from 57,293 games spanning 1952 to 2009, looking at factors like outdoor temperature, number of hit-by-pitch incidents per game and variables that could affect pitching like pitcher performance, wild pitches, errors by the other team, the location of the game and the year the game was played.
The results were interesting-controlling for other factors-a pitcher with a teammate who had already been beaned by the opposing team was five percent more likely to bean an opposing batter when the temperatures rose above 90 degrees. No change was seen in the likelihood of a hit-by-pitch event if a teammate hadn't already been hit. This proves that heat increases a specific type of anger-the retributive, retaliative kind.
The researchers assume that the heat may provoke a pitcher to see a teammate's beaning event as hostile, increasing the likelihood that he would respond in kind.
So what does this baseball tidbit have to do with you? Simply recognize that the heat can affect your response to other people or events. If you regularly exercise outside during hot weather or if your kids play sports on hot days, remember to take a deep breath before responding to a perceived slight or injustice.
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