PublicationsThe experienced temperature sensitivity and regulation survey
Individuals differ in thermosensitivity, thermoregulation, and zones of thermoneutrality and thermal comfort. Whereas temperature sensing and -effectuating processes occur in part unconsciously and autonomic, awareness of temperature and thermal preferences can affect thermoregulatory behavior as well. Quantification of trait-like individual differences of thermal preferences and experienced temperature sensitivity and regulation is therefore relevant to obtain a complete understanding of human thermophysiology. Whereas several scales have been developed to assess instantaneous appreciation of heat and cold exposure, a comprehensive scale dedicated to assess subjectively experienced autonomic or behavioral thermoregulatory activity has been lacking so far. We constructed a survey that specifically approaches these domains from a trait-like perspective, sampled 240 volunteers across a wide age range, and analyzed the emergent component structure. Participants were asked to report their thermal experiences, captured in 102 questions, on a 7-point bi-directional Likert scale. In a second set of 32 questions, participants were asked to indicate the relative strength of experiences across different body locations. Principal component analyses extracted 21 meaningful dimensions, which were sensitive to sex-differences and age-related changes. The questions were also assessed in a matched sample of 240 people with probable insomnia to evaluate the sensitivity of these dimensions to detect group differences in a case-control design. The dimensions showed marked mean differences between cases and controls. The survey thus has discriminatory value. It can freely be used by anyone interested in studying individual or group differences in thermosensitivity and thermoregulation.