Look, it’s just hard to get work done in the summer. It’s bright and sunny on the other side of that window, you’ve always got a friend or two posting beach pics on Instagram, and unless the A/C is blowing right on you, all you can think about is where your next ice-cold beverage is coming from.
It turns out the brain fog of summer may be real. Market Watch reports on a paper by the National Bureau of Economic research that found test scores are lower when temperatures are high, but only in schools without air conditioning.
Those tend to be the same schools that have more poor and minority students, so air conditioning might not be the only factor at play. However, if this study’s conclusions are correct, the lack of air conditioning puts disadvantaged kids at an even further disadvantage.
Meanwhile, research from the University of Houston, as reported in Scientific American, found that people seem to have a harder time making decisions in the heat. Convenience stores sell fewer lottery tickets from their wide array of scratch-offs, while still selling plenty of the pick-six type.
The same researchers also did studies asking people to choose a fictional cell phone plan; when the temperature was hot, more people chose the one that looked like a good deal on the surface but would cost more in the long run. At cooler temperatures, people were more willing to do the maths to choose the better option.
Overall, heat seems to interfere the most with complex tasks, including ones where you need to make a lot of decisions or hold many data points in your head at the same time. So if you need to do some hard thinking this summer, schedule your most demanding tasks for the morning or evening when it’s cooler, or consider cranking up the air conditioning.