The “battle of the thermostat” is a well-known trope that has made its way into comedy, pop culture and media coverage – and there is scientific survey evidence that women generally do prefer warmer indoor temperatures than men.
A new study published in PLOS One journal published Wednesday posits that women are, in fact, more productive in warmer temperatures and even one or two degrees makes a difference.
The Berlin-based study run by Tom Chang and Agne Kajackaite had over 500 subjects take various tests in math, verbal and cognitive reflection in different rooms set to different temperatures between 16 and 32.5 C.
Their findings showed that women “perform better on a math and verbal task” when the temperature was higher, while the “reverse effect was observed for men.”
A 1-degree difference in room temperature boosted women’s math scores by nearly 2 per cent and a 1 per cent boost in the verbal task scores.
As expected, the men did better at cooler temperatures, but their decrease in performance was not as great as the women’s gain.
There was no impact on the cognitive reflective tests for either men or women no matter the temperature.
In their conclusion, Chang and Kajackaite say their results “potentially raise the stakes for the battle of the thermostat,” by proving that “it’s not just about comfort but also about cognitive performance and productivity.”
“Our results suggest that in gender-balanced workplaces, temperatures should be set significantly higher than current standards.”