Effects of hot and cold temperature exposure on performance: a meta-analytic review

Ergonomics. 2002 Aug 15;45(10):682-98. doi: 10.1080/00140130210158419.


A meta-analysis to mathematically summarize the effect of hot and cold temperature exposure on performance was completed. The results from 515 effect sizes calculated from 22 original studies suggest that hot and cold temperatures negatively impact performance on a wide range of cognitive-related tasks. More specifically, hot temperatures of 90 degrees F (32.22 degrees C) Web Bulb Globe Temperature Index or above and cold temperatures of 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) or less resulted in the greatest decrement in performance in comparison to neutral temperature conditions (14.88% decrement and 13.91% decrement, respectively). Furthermore, the duration of exposure to the experimental temperature, the duration of exposure to the experimental temperature prior to the task onset, the type of task and the duration of the task had differential effects on performance. The current results indicate that hot and cold temperature exposure have a negative impact on performance and that other variables (e.g., length of exposure to the temperature or task duration) may modify this relationship.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Humans
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • United States