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Q: Body Temperature and Color/Weather ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Body Temperature and Color/Weather
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: squirly-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 29 Oct 2002 09:58 PST
Expires: 28 Nov 2002 09:58 PST
Question ID: 92149
I would like to know of any studies on the way we perceive temperature
when it's dark out.
  For instance. I keep my thermostat at a constant temperature yet it
"feels" colder when it overcast and gray out. I know it's 74 degrees
if the thermostat says it is but I am inclined to turn the thermostat
up if it's darker out. Why is is this from a psychological standpoint?

 I am interested in studies on this not just theory.


Clarification of Question by squirly-ga on 30 Oct 2002 04:51 PST
  I have considered this but the fact remains that when my thermostat
says it's 74, it's 74. It sounds like you are asking the same question
I am except from an atmospheric or humidity point of view instead of
colors or relative lighting.

Like I originally asked, I would like to see studies done on this. I'm
certain somebody has done studies of this nature.
Subject: Re: Body Temperature and Color/Weather
Answered By: byrd-ga on 30 Oct 2002 09:54 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
This is an extremely complex subject, and yes indeed, there have been
numerous studies done on the quality and perception of light for a
wide variety of reasons and applications, ranging from learning about
reptile behavior to interior design to medical advances.  What seems
to be clear, however, is that in fact, the temperature variations you
describe are more than mere subjective perception, that they comprise
a physiological as well as a psychological effect.

In actuality, different qualities, or colors of light have different
temperatures, measured in degrees Kelvin, though the correlation to
your sense of temperature is not what you might think at first.  The
color temperature of daylight ranges from about 5,000 to 10,000
degrees K, with a sunny day being at the lower end, an overcast day at
the higher.  The higher temperature incidates a preponderance of blue
on the electromagnetic spectrum, which is perceived as a "cooler"
color by the human eye, and also feels cooler due to a number of
factors cited below.  Then there is the matter of luminence, or
brightness, which also has an effect on perception.  Therefore, for
example, a high color temperature combined with low luminence
translates into "cool" perception, and vice versa. There's a pretty
good graphical depiction of this in an article posted on the website
for "Architectural Record," here:

Though it doesn't cite the specific studies, this article gives
specifics on physiological responses to color changes, which it says
are supported by scientific studies, and which directly support the
above, i.e. lower color temperatures cause bodily changes resulting in
higher body temperatures; higher color temperatures cause the reverse.  What this shows is
that even though the AMBIENT temperature of the room may be the same
under different lighting conditions, your BODY temperature fluctuates
with changes in light and color temperature.

There is an interesting article here on the history of lighting
research and the direction(s) it is likely to go:

And then there is evidence that light and darkness are related to
one's circadian rhythms, which in turn directly cause fluctuations in
body temperatures.  Here's one discussion on that topic, aimed at
middle school level, but interesting nonetheless:

A JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) report on the
"joint meeting of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and
the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms" underscores
this relationship of light to the proper functioning of normal
circadian rhythms, as it relates the results of studies done with
blind people:

Here's an article containing a section on resetting of circadian
rhythms through the use of light:

This article on SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, cites studies
that have shown the lethargy of this disorder is directly related to
the production of melatonin, resulting from a lower body temperature,
which in turn is a result of lowered light levels.  And ABC
News has a story also citing studies that showed light levels affect
body temperature, among other things:

Here are some more links to interesting studies and articles about how
light and color affect us both physiologically and psychologically:

Search terms used: 
body color temperature correlation study OR studies
physiological psychological perception light temperature study OR
body temperature affected color light study OR studies
correlation light dark "body temperature"

I hope this gives you something to chew on.  But be careful, one site
said that the study of light and/or color is addicting!  And there is
certainly what seems to be an infinite amount of information available
on this subject.  Be sure to study in light of a high color
temperature for best results!

Best wishes,
squirly-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Enough to chew on? Heck, that's enough to feed a small village on!

Thank you for your timely and informative response.

Subject: Re: Body Temperature and Color/Weather
From: tomasala-ga on 29 Oct 2002 11:25 PST
Have you considered the effect of humidity and atmospheric pressure?
For instance, damp cold and damp heat "feel" colder and hotter, and
when the barometer drops, it "feels" like the temperature also drops.

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