Has the Battle of the Thermostat Finally Been Settled?

Via the Guardian, a new study has demonstrated that men work better in cold temperatures and women work better in warm temperatures. Here’s one of the scatterplots, with men in blue and women in red:

As you can see, in the math test men did a little worse as the temperature rose but women did way better. There were similar results in a verbal test. So the war of the thermostat is over: science has proven that we should turn the heat up. Hooray!

This is sort of an irresistible piece to write, but I’d like to point something out. I converted the original chart to Fahrenheit for my (mostly) American audience, and then I put a yellow box around the temperatures you’re actually likely to see in an office: around 66° to 78°. The rest of the chart is mostly nonsense, since this study is aimed at office workers and very few offices keep the temperature outside that range. Here’s what just that piece of the chart looks like, with all the trendlines removed:

If you run regression lines through the blue and red circles you’ll certainly get something, but it sure looks to me like it would be meaningless. The trend in the bigger chart seems to be driven almost entirely by the temperature extremes, which hardly anyone encounters in real life.

So as irresistible as it is, this study should probably be ignored. Maybe if they redo it with more samples restricted to reasonable ranges it would tell us something. Right now it doesn’t

POSTSCRIPT: I would like to declare my lack of personal bias in this matter by mentioning that I work at home and the thermostat isn’t an issue. Then again, when I worked in an office I never cared much about it either.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate