4.05.2012

Temperature and generally antisocial behavior


Not only do people honk horns and hit you with baseball pitches more when it's hot out, but you also get worse customer service...

The effects of temperature on service employees' customer orientation: an experimental approach
Peter Kolba, Christine Gockelb & Lioba Wertha

Abstract: Numerous studies have demonstrated how temperature can affect perceptual, cognitive and psychomotor performance. We extend this research to interpersonal aspects of performance, namely service employees' and salespeople's customer orientation. We combine ergonomics with recent research on social cognition linking physical with interpersonal warmth/coldness. In Experiment 1, a scenario study in the lab, we demonstrate that student participants in rooms with a low temperature showed more customer-oriented behaviour and gave higher customer discounts than participants in rooms with a high temperature – even in zones of thermal comfort. In Experiment 2, we show the existence of alternative possibilities to evoke positive temperature effects on customer orientation in a sample of 126 service and sales employees using a semantic priming procedure. Overall, our results confirm the existence of temperature effects on customer orientation. Furthermore, important implications for services, retail and other settings of interpersonal interactions are discussed.

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