Raising the room temperature can boost scores on IQ-like tests by almost 10 percent, new research reveals.
The increase only applies to women, though, whose verbal and math skills are better at higher room temperatures.
Men perform better when the room temperature is towards the cooler end of the spectrum.
Perhaps this finding helps explain why women tend to prefer warmer indoor temperatures than men.
The study revealed that women got 9 percent more math answers correct when the temperature was 9F (5C) higher.
At the higher temperature, women tried harder on the tests, while men tried harder at lower temperatures.
Dr Tom Chang, the study’s first author, said:
“What we found is it’s not just whether you feel comfortable or not, but that your performance is affected by temperature.
One of the most surprising things we learned is this isn’t about the extremes of temperature.
Even if you go from 60 to 75F (15.5 to 24C), which is a relatively normal temperature range, you still see a meaningful variation in performance.”
In a study subtitled, ‘Battle For The Thermostat’, 542 men and women were given tests of math, logic and verbal ability in temperatures ranging from 61F to 90F (16C to 32C).
For the tests of math and verbal ability, women performed better when it was warmer and men when it was cooler.
Temperature had no effect on men’s and women’s performance on the logic test.
The study’s authors conclude:
“In a large laboratory experiment, over 500 individuals performed a set of cognitive tasks at randomly manipulated indoor temperatures.
Consistent with their preferences for temperature, for both math and verbal tasks, women perform better at higher temperatures while men perform better at lower temperatures.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Chang & Kajackaite, 2019).