Turning up the heat: The impact of indoor temperature on selected cognitive processes and the validity of self-report

Martijn Stroom*, Nils Kok, Martin Strobel, Piet M. A. Eichholtz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Indoor climate interventions are often motivated from a worker comfort and productivity perspective. However, the relationship between indoor climate and human performance remains unclear. We assess the effect of indoor climate factors on human performance, focusing on the impact of indoor temperature on decision processes. Specifically, we expect heat to negatively influence higher cognitive rational processes, forcing people to rely more on intuitive shortcuts. In a laboratory setting, participants (N=257) were exposed to a controlled physical environment with either a hot temperature (28 degrees C) or a neutral temperature (22 degrees C) over a two-hour period, in which a battery of validated tests were conducted. We find that heat exposure did not lead to a difference in decision quality. We did find evidence for a strong gender difference in self-report, such that only men expect that high temperature leads to a significant decline in performance, which does in fact not materialize. These results cast doubt on the validity of self-report as a proxy for performance under different indoor climate conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-795
Number of pages30
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • indoor climate
  • heat
  • performance
  • decision quality
  • heuristics
  • biases
  • risk-taking
  • self-report

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