People take off their shirts when it gets hot: peer-reviewed study

I am finding it difficult to breathe after reading this abstract from a peer-reviewed scholarly article in a respected journal1.

This paper describes the application of a methodology designed to analyse the relationship between climatic conditions and the perception of bioclimatic comfort. The experiment consisted of conducting simultaneous questionnaire surveys and weather measurements during 2 sunny spring days in an open urban area in Lisbon. The results showed that under outdoor conditions, thermal comfort can be maintained with temperatures well above the standard values defined for indoor conditions. There seems to be a spontaneous adaptation in terms of clothing whenever the physiological equivalent temperature threshold of 31?C is surpassed. The perception of air temperature is difficult to separate from the perception of the thermal environment and is modified by other parameters, particularly wind. The perception of solar radiation is related to the intensity of fluxes from various directions (i.e. falling upon both vertical and horizontal surfaces), weighted by the coefficients of incidence upon the human body. Wind was found to be the most intensely perceived variable, usually negatively. Wind perception depends largely on the extreme values of wind speed and wind variability. Women showed a stronger negative reaction to high wind speed than men. The experiment proved that this methodology is well-suited to achieving the proposed objectives and that it may be applied in other areas and in other seasons.

(All emphasis mine; visual proof of their findings is here.)

In case you are not used to parsing academicese, I have take the liberty of re-writing this abstract in plain English.

We went to an open-air cafe in Lisbon on 2 sunny spring days and asked people if they were hot or cold. People were happier being in the sun than indoors. When it got hot, people took their shirts off. People generally did not care to think about out questions about the difference between perceptions of temperature and wind. It was always hotter sitting in the sun. People didn’t like when the wind blew away their newspapers and napkins. Women complained more than men about the wind. We plan on asking these questions in Hawaii in January if we can get another grant.

Remember this! It isn’t true unless a study says it’s true.

1Sandra Oliveira and Henrique Andrad, 2006 (may they forgive me). An initial assessment of the bioclimatic comfort in an outdoor public space in Lisbon, International Journal of Biometeorology, 52, 69-84


  1. bgc

    Did they get a grant to carry out this cutting-edge research?

  2. Bernie

    My thoughts exactly, because I would like to replicate this path breaking effort with such counter intuitive findings in say Monterey or Ft. Myers. I am not sure how many more sites we would need before we can talk about an average global response. This would definitely mean some additional fieldwork to determine how significant the city versus rural effect is.
    In my own fieldwork, this effect is far more noticeable in Spring than under simialr conditions in the Fall. I am definitely puzzled by this, though I would guess it has something to do with augmented skin pigmentation.
    I wonder if the study was sponsored by Tommy Bahama?

  3. gps


    And the abstract sounds more like “we asked people what temperature they thought it was, and here are some factors other than the actual temperature that correlated with their answers.”

  4. John Murphy

    Fair go! The world’s GDP would drop by 30% if these people didn’t get grants.

    Then again, maybe it would rise 30%.

    A man must believe in something.

    I believe I should have a grant to undertake cutting edge research, probably in Tahiti, to solve the above problematical and very concerning dilemma.

  5. Lita White

    Maybe Nature would be interested in publishing this study as their annual April Fool Joke. Oh wait, can’t, they’re serious.LOL

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