Game changing study reveals that turning up the thermostat may increase women’s productivity

All this time we thought the office “battle of the thermostat” was just about comfort, but a new study lists cognitive function as another main consequence of temperature.

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If you’re familiar with the constant workplace struggle of women complaining it’s too cold and men complaining it’s too hot (albeit not every woman and every man), your office most likely struggles with the “battle of the thermostat.”

But as it turns out, both women and men have a more valid argument than just wanting to be comfortable, according to a study published May 22 by Tom Chang and Agne Kajackaite from the USC Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, USA, and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, in Berlin, Germany.


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The study indicated that temperature actually has an effect on cognitive performance and productivity, and these effects vary based on gender. Authors wrote that “ordinary variations in room temperature can affect cognitive performance significantly and differently for men and women.”

Women performed better on math and verbal tests when it was hotter

Chang and Kajakaite had 543 German students take logic, math, and verbal tests in a room that was either cooled or heated to a range of temperatures between 61 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit. These students were getting paid based on the number of answers they answered correctly, so you know they were trying their very best.

The results showed that female students generally performed better on math and verbal tests when the room was at the warmer end of the spectrum. At higher temperatures, women both attempted to solve and actually succeeded in solving correctly more math and verbal tasks than at lower temperatures.

Men perform better on math and verbal tests at lower temperatures

In contrast to female students, male students performed better on the math and verbal tests when the room was set to a lower temperature. Not only did male students submit fewer correct responses when the room was warmer, but actually submitted fewer responses in general.

Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the increase in scores in women participants in response to higher temperatures is significantly larger than the decrease in the male students’ performance. So does this mean that women in the office now have the more valid argument?

Room temperature did not impact logic test scores

Logic test scores were not impacted by the temperature of the room for either male or female students, only math and verbal.


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