June 9, 2022
Freakonomics M.D. author Dr. Bapu Jena recently interviewed Carey Morewedge, Professor of Marketing, for a podcast episode titled, “Is Rainy Day Joint Pain All in Your Head?”, regarding the popular notion that poor weather causes joint inflammation.
While many people believe in, or even claim to feel joint pain themselves on rainy days, Dr. Jena along with Dr. Robert Shmerling and Carey explain that there is no conclusive study indicating a correlation between the two. Psychological factors and perceptions play a role in this phenomenon, as well as cognitive bias, which can cause people to consistently misinterpret information. Carey addresses this by stating,
“Well, the one that leaps to mind is confirmation bias — if we’re just looking for things that confirm our beliefs and disconfirm their alternatives. So, if it’s raining and I feel joint pain, there I see a relationship between joint pain and the weather, but I’m not necessarily attending to joint pain when it’s sunny and dry. Or I’m not paying attention to the absence of joint pain when it’s raining.”
Nevertheless, despite the lack of scientific proof, many people believe that joint pain and the weather are inextricably linked- a demonstration of the phenomenon Carey describes.