Published on 22 May in academic journal PLOS One, a study looked at the differences in the effect of temperature on cognitive performance by gender.
“People invest a lot in making sure their workers are comfortable and highly productive,” lead author of the study Tom Chang said in a press statement by the University of Southern California.
“This study is saying even if you care only about money, or the performance of your workers, you may want to crank up the temperature in your office buildings,” he added.
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In the lab experiment, 543 students in Berlin, Germany were tested on a set of math, verbal, and cognitive reflection problems
The math test involved calculating additions without a calculator, the verbal test required coming up with as many German words as possible from ten given letters, and the cognitive reflection test was made up of questions.
The study took place in rooms at various temperatures between 16.19 degrees Celsius (roughly 61 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32.57 degrees Celsius (roughly 91 degrees Fahrenheit).
As temperatures increased, so did the women’s performance on math and verbal tasks. When temperatures were lowered, the men performed better.
Image via PLOS One
“Upping the temperature by just one-degree Celsius was linked with a 1.76% increase in the number of math questions solved correctly by women,” study co-author Agne Kajackaite told CNN.
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Meanwhile, men saw the opposite results as they submitted 0.63% fewer correct answers at this temperature.
While men didn’t perform as well when the room was warmer, the impact was not as great as cold temperatures on women.
Image via The Balance Careers
Test outcomes for both sexes on cognitive reflection were not affected by temperature.
“It’s been documented that women like warmer indoor temperatures than men, but the idea until now has been that it’s a matter of personal preference,” Chang said
“What we found is it’s not just whether you feel comfortable or not, but that your performance on things that matter – in math and verbal dimensions, and how hard you try – is affected by temperature,” he added.
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