Exploring the Human Side of Meteorology: A Brief Report on the Psychology of Meteorologists

11 Jun 2018

Links between autism spectrum conditions and scientific aptitude were first investigated twenty years ago. Since then, associations between autism and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) aptitude have been established and discussed via the empathizing-systemizing (E-S) theory. E-S theory hypothesizes that autistic individuals are naturally driven to create and analyze sets of logical rules, or “systems,” related to and constructed around things in the world. This is at the expense of cognitive, but not affective, empathy. Here, we not only extend previous work in testing the similarity of meteorologists, engineers, and physicists with respect to empathizing, systemizing, and autistic traits; we also report the first examination of meteorologists’ personality and mental health relative to other representative physical scientists. Meteorologists in this sample were higher in empathizing and systemizing, extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, and less stressed, depressed, and anxious, than were engineers and physicists. Implications for the meteorological workplace are discussed.