Should you raise the room temperature at your events?
Room temperature has been a subject in politics since the Nixon/Kennedy debates of 1960. In the first debate, Nixon was famously sweating on camera (supposedly sick), which led to considerable fighting over the thermostat for the second debate. Of course, just this last year, temperature became an issue in the Florida Governor’s race – when Governor Rick Scott objected to Crist’s use of a fan at the foot of his podium.
Regardless – from an operative and advance standpoint, conventional wisdom would be to keep the candidate cool and sweat free – bringing room temperature at events more towards the comfortably cool side.
In reality – studies show that, sweaty candidates aside, you’re probably better off upping the temperature to comfortably warm.
Warmer = higher product valuations.
In a recent study, (Zwebner 2013) it was shown that there are significant differences in product valuations between people in cold rooms vs. warm rooms. In fact, subjects reporting in a 78 degree (Farenheit) room valued products average of 10% higher than those in a room at 64 degrees.
Not all products were valued at the same rate. For example, the difference was 25% for Dove Shower Gel, 12% for Duracell batteries, but only 4% for popcorn.
It should be noted that the same team performed experiments with a more drastic difference in temperature – over 50 degrees – and found that people paid even more (36% more on average) in the warm condition than the cold one.
Will Warmer Temperatures make your candidate or cause more persuasive?
Temperature doesn’t simply affect price valuations – it also affects acceptance of outside opinions and conformity of opinion to the masses. A 2013 study (Huang) stated:
“The results of three laboratory experiments suggest that warm (vs. cool) temperatures dispose consumers toward using others’ opinions as the basis for product preferences, stock price forecasts, and betting. Warm temperatures increased the participants’ perceptions of social closeness to other decision-makers, thus leading them to consider the opinions of those decision-makers to have greater validity. This enhanced validity, in turn, rendered them more likely to conform to the crowd. This effect was confirmed in an analysis of betting behavior at the racetrack over a three-year period. Bets were more likely to converge on the “favorite” (i.e., the majority-endorsed option) when the temperature at the track was warm.”
While the conformity effect is more pronounced in products than things like hairstyles that have more to do with social identity, there are also studies that show warm temperatures warm “(relative to cool temperatures) appear to blur the perceived boundaries between an individual and all salient others, creating a sense of social similarity, closeness (IJzerman & Semin, 2010 ), and ” oneness” (Heider, 1958 ).”
While there is no direct study whether a political contribution would be valuated higher in a warmer room vs. a colder one, and similarly, no proof that the conformity effect described above would apply to those listening to a speech – it seems there is evidence that consumers respond more favorably to warmer rooms.
If you’re planning a fundraising event or speech, it would seem to make sense to keep the room on the warm side of comfortable – just on the possibility that it might lead to higher valuations of the candidate’s worth (and higher/more donations). Likewise, at a rally, when you want people to respond favorably en mass, a warmer temperature MIGHT lead to quicker acceptance of the speaker, and more unanimity in the response.
At a deeper level, these studies open up some questions regarding online solicitations and media planning. For example, to the extent that we have flexibility regarding the timing of solicitations – would we be better off making these solicitations on hotter days, or warmer times of day?
Further studies would need to be conducted to gauge what effect (if any) this has on politics. It’s also unclear where the thresholds are. Is there a point in which valuations go down because it’s too hot?
In the meantime, we’d recommend cranking room temperature up a touch.