Saturday 25 January 2014

Van de Vliert replies


I have read your interpretation of my remarks on the climato-economic roots of intelligence and fundamental freedoms with considerable interest. Hopefully, the following responses may sharpen your ideas and insights:

(1) As explained in par. R4.2 on pp.513-514, not all ambient temperature is climate. This is most clearly evidenced by the fact that cold and hot weather cannot have a joint psychophysiological impact at the same time, whereas the combination of cold winters and hot summers does have joint impacts on human functioning (e.g., more suicides, as reported in my 2009 book on pp. 46-51).

(2) Of course, climatic demands do influence national wealth (as exemplified by inhabitants of arctics and deserts), and multiple regression analysis does take this main effect into account when estimating interaction effects of climatic demands and wealth resources on human functioning.

(3) My theory building is a serious attempt to attack too simple explanations of IQ, freedom, etc. in terms of either climate or economy. There is no such thing as myopic determinism! For a succinct treatment of this topic, see Van de Vliert, E., Einarsen, S., & Postmes, T. (2013). Rethinking climatic determinism of conflict. Science published online 16 September 2013:

Hope this helps, with best regards,

Evert Van de Vliert


  1. "may sharpen your ideas and insights": my golly, I hope that sounds politer in Dutch.

  2. Professor Thompson,

    What do you make of this piece in The New York Times:

    "What Drives Success"