Pop Culture Junkette

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Icy Hot

It seems that whenever I am in the office someone is complaining about the temperature. Holt just walked into my office a few minutes ago and complained it was way too cold. When I walked into her office early this morning, I couldn't believe how hot it was.

Generally, the whether one is too hot or too cold breaks down along gender lines: men sit in a room and sweat while women shiver. And it seems that no one is ever truly happy with the temperature.

The biggest complainer about this is Gobo, who constantly gripes that woman walk around his office in the summer wearing skirts and sleeveless tops, insisting the temperature sit at 78 degrees while he has to suffer wearing wool pants and a long-sleeved shirt. And generally I think he has a point--it tends to be easier to put on a layer of clothing than to take it off, and since women in most business casual offices have a lot more flexibility in the summer months than men, I don't have a problem keeping the temperature a few degrees lower and carrying a cardigan when I go into a conference room.

But it seems that maybe we are all complaining just a little too much. At least we are if you believe this Washington Post article. According to it, most people aren't truly bothered by a temperature difference of a few degrees, and the feeling of being too hot or cold is in large part psychological.

Of course when Gobo showed the article to people from work, not one of them believed that the study could possibly be right.


Blogger Laura Holt said...

Very interesting. I can buy that there are probably a lot of psychological influences on the "comfort" level people claim with the heat. And I'm also happy to keep three cardigans in my office . . . but I have this theory (which is sort of touched on in the article) that it just can't be good for you to routinely work in an environment that is artificially cooled or heated to an extreme degree (not to mention being completely enviromentally irresponsible). So I keep my office very warm when it's warm outside (and keep my door closed so the hall air conditioners don't have to work overtime) and keep it cooler in the winter.

In addition, couldn't part of the psychological difference be based on the war of the sexes involved in the temperature? I.e. women are so used to being kept freezing (and I'm talking about having to pile on wool sweaters when the men in the office are in long-sleeved cotton shirts - not the situation Gobo's talking about where the clothing is clearly an issue) in the workplace that they're eager to claim an improvement when simply TOLD that the heat has gone up, and men are psychologically so used to fighting over the temp that they're prepped to claim an increase in discomfort when simply told that the heat has increased.

8/18/2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

The psychological aspect you point out is an interesting one, and I think you could be on to something there. If you're right, I think it might mean that the study is flawed a bit, because those same people probably wouldn't end up being convinced that the temperature was really different for an extended period of time. So being told it was warmer and sitting in the room for a half hour, they might believe it. But sitting in the room day after day, they would probably feel that the temperature was still as cold (or hot) as it always was.

8/18/2006 10:14 AM  

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