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Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


Thermal Effects on Performance DEA 3500 - Human Factors: Ambient Environment Temperature and Productivity British Industrial Fatigue Board studies showed lower output in hot/heavy industries in summer than winter (Vernon, 1919) Temperature and Accidents British Industrial Fatigue Board studies showed increased accidents when air temperature deviated from 20C (68F) (Vernon, 1919, 1927) Temperature and Errors Morse code error rates increase when ET >33C (91.4F) (Mackworth, 1952) Temperature and Vigilance Auditory vigilance task performance and response times fall when core temperature falls below 37.9C (100.2F) (Wilkinson et al., 1964) Temperature and Mental Performance Curvilinear relationship between exposure time and temperature (WBGT NIOSH preferred index for hot environments) for undiminished mental performance (Wing, 1965) ET and Cognitive Decrements Temperature and Text Learning Perceived effort and error rates are lowest at 26.7C (80.1F) room temperature, but work speed is slowest. Reported comfortable temperature is 25.6C (78.1F). (Pepler and Warner, 1968) Temperature, Reading and Comprehension Schoolchildrens performance on reading and comprehension tests varies with air temperature, with an optimum performance around 20C (68F) (Wyon, 1970) Complex task performance better when students work in air-conditioned classrooms (Pepler, 1971; Schoer & Shaffran, 1973) Temperature and Classroom Performance Two independent field intervention experiments were conducted in school classrooms in late summer (in 2004 and 2005). The air temperature was manipulated and the conditions were established for one week at a time in a blind crossover design with repeated measures on two classes of 10- to 12-yearold children. Six to eight exercises exemplifying different aspects of schoolwork (numerical and language-based) were performed as part of normal lessons. Pupils indicated their environmental perceptions and the intensity of any symptoms on visual analogue scales. Pupils thermal sensation changed from slightly too warm to neutral, and the performance of two numerical and two language-based tests was significantly improved when the temperature was reduced from 25C to 20C (77F to 68F). Temperature and Task Performance Equal-tolerance curves for 3 types of tasks. (Hancock, 1981)

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Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University



WBGT and Performance Recommended WBGT limits permissible for various workloads for continuous work. Temperature and Productivity Optimum comfort temperature may be higher than optimum productivity temperature Heat stress effects on performance are not always linear In temperate zones: Critical temperature for performance decrements is 30C (86F) Accident rates increase 30% at <12C (53.6F) or >24C (75.2F) and are lowest at 20C (68F) Moderate heat stress: impairs efficiency in men > women Interacts with fatigue to decrease efficiency Interacts with age and accidents (at 20C there is no correlation, between 22-30C age accounts for increasing variance up to 40% Temperature and Productivity Without incentives or knowledge of results more typing work was done at 20C (68F) than 22C (71.6F) (New York State Commission on Ventilation, 1914) Office task performance was slower at 21C (70F) than 24C (75F), when subjects were thermally neutral, but was faster at 18C (64F) than 21C (Langkilde, 1978) Optimum industrial work temperature is 17-24C (63-75F) Skilled arm movements are optimum at 21C (13-29C) (55-84F) SBS reports increase above 22C (72F) Temperature and Productivity Statistical analysis of 10 studies assessed the average relationship between temperature and work performance (Seppnen et al., 2003) . Temperature and Productivity Statistical analysis of 24 studies assessed the average relationship between temperature and work performance. As the indoor air temperature rises above or falls below 71F (21.6C), work performance decreases. The equation for the curve is:





Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


P= -5.5893 + 0.2394xTF - 0.002824xTF2 + 0.00001068xTF3 P=productivity relative to the maximum value, TF= air temperature (F)

Temperature and Productivity Research on computer workers has shown a strong relationship between temperature and work performance and for sedentary computer work the optimum temperature appears to be around 27C (80.6F) Temperature and Social Behavior Drivers not in air-conditioned cars honk the horn more frequently on hot days (>85F) (29.4C) (Baron, 1976; McFarlane, 1986) People are less helpful when asked for an interview on a hot day (Cunningham, 1979) Heat and Attraction Heat decreases attraction between 2 strangers, regardless of attitude similarity (Griffit (1970) J. Person. Soc. Psychol., 15, 240-244) Effect not always replicable. Temperature and Riots Average daily temperatures before, during and after riots (Goranson & King, 1970) Temperature and Crime Violent crime incidents in Indianapolis increase with increasing temperature (Cotton 1986, J. App. Soc. Psychol., 16, 786-801). Temperature and Crime Anderson et al. (1997) analyzed climate and crime data from 1950 1995.






Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


Positive correlation between mean daily outdoor air temperature and serious and deadly assaults even after adjusting for year, poverty and age. Property crime unrelated to air temperature. Positive correlation between the number of hot days and violent crime. Anderson (2001) concluded that hot temperatures increase aggression in many settings.