Saturday, July 20, 2019

Harper’s Index: thermostat and test scores

Percentage change in women’s math test scores in a room that is between 80° and 90° F rather than 60° and 70° F : +27
In men’s math test scores : –7
Traced the source to:
Battle for the thermostat: Gender and the effect of temperature on cognitive performance

The math test in question was adding pairs of five digit numbers, 50 pairs in five minutes.
The verbal test was given the letters ADEHINRSTU, build as many (German) words as possible in 5 minutes.
"Our sample consisted exclusively out of students from universities in Berlin. The advantages of this subject pool is that they are relatively easy to recruit and homogenous in their cognitive skills. The disadvantage of this subject pool is that it is not representative of the whole population with respect to age and education level. 
About the results:
"Taken together, these results show that within a temperature range of 16 and 33 degrees Celsius, females generally exhibit better cognitive performance at the warmer end of the temperature distribution while men do better at colder temperatures. The increase in female cognitive performance appears to be driven largely by an increase in the number of submitted answers. We interpret this as evidence that the increased performance is driven in part by an increase in effort. Similarly, the decrease in male cognitive performance is partially driven by a decrease in observable effort. Importantly, the increase in female cognitive performance is larger and more precisely estimated than the decrease in male performance."
 What this result establishes, IMO, is that each person, or at least student in Berlin, tends to put forth most effort in a indoor temperature setting that suits them.   This may have some relevance to supposedly gender-neutral tests, the test setting may be important.