Drivers of diversity in human thermal perception – A review for holistic comfort models

M. Schweiker, Huebner Gesche, Boris Kingma*, Rick Kramer, Hannah Pallubinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Understanding the drivers leading to individual differences in human thermal perception has become increasingly important, amongst other things due to challenges such as climate change and an ageing society. This review summarizes existing knowledge related to physiological, psychological, and context-related drivers of diversity in thermal perception. Furthermore, the current state of knowledge is discussed in terms of its applicability in thermal comfort models, by combining modelling approaches of the thermoneutral zone (TNZ) and adaptive thermal heat balance model (ATHB). In conclusion, the results of this review show the clear contribution of some physiological and psychological factors, such as body composition, metabolic rate, adaptation to certain thermal environments and perceived control, to differences in thermal perception. However, the role of other potential diversity-causing parameters, such as age and sex, remain uncertain. Further research is suggested, especially regarding the interaction of different diversity-driving factors with each other, both physiological and psychological, to help establishing a holistic picture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-342
Number of pages35
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2018


  • thermal comfort
  • age
  • sex
  • body composition
  • metabolic rate
  • Perceived control
  • psychology
  • non-uniform environments
  • transient effects
  • comfort model

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