Gender battle over the home thermostat

Women see conflict


The winner of the home temperature war depends on the perspective coming from a man or woman.

Men say they often accommodate the comfort of others while women see it differently, according to new research on 112 households.

A study published in the November journal of PLOS ONE looks at decisions made by sexes in household temperature settings and found that skirmishes often lead to conflict, agreement, or compromise.

Men were more likely to say they compromised on keeping the temperature comfortable and in line with the preference of others, while women were a bit more likely to describe their interactions as conflicts.

“It’s possible that women are losing the thermostat battle,” said Nicole Sintov, lead author of the study and assistant professor of behavior, decision making and sustainability at Ohio State University. "The data hint toward that being what’s possibly going on here.

The study revealed that thermostat adjustments tended to be more likely to occur after agreements and compromises, but conflicts were associated with fewer temperature changes.

“It seems like if you disagree with someone on thermal comfort and what you want to do to moderate that, the thermostat is less likely to get changed,” Sintov said. "I’m not here to say that’s a good or bad thing. It suggests there’s a stalemate for some reason that we don’t know. It could be that one person puts on a sweater to warm up while another opens a window to cool down.

“Alternatively, one person might exert authority over the thermostat to cater to their needs while other household members’ needs are sidelined. There are some negatives for those involved in conflicts -- because you have two or more people who are already uncomfortable, and you also now have interpersonal conflict, which is not pleasant.”

The study wasn’t specific enough to reveal if the thermostat adjustments were energy consuming or energy saving.

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