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If you’ve ever complained that it’s hard to get any work done when your office is too cold, it’s not your imagination. According to a new study, not only are we more productive in warmer temperatures – we’re better couponers, too.

“Role of Ambient Temperature in Influencing Willingness to Pay in Auctions and Negotiations” appears in the most recent edition of the Journal of Marketing. The study’s authors find that the hotter it is, the better we are at shopping, and saving.

“When our bodies are uncomfortable, it increases aggressiveness,” explained study co-author Jayati Sinha, assistant professor of marketing and logistics at Florida International University’s College of Business. And, as anyone who’s ever hit the stores on Black Friday can tell you, an aggressive shopper is often a better saver.

To test this idea, the researchers conducted several experiments. In one, study participants were given a list of products to buy at their local grocery store, along with a bucket containing coupons. “We informed participants that there were four coupons for each product on their shopping list, and that their goal was to find the best coupon for each product,” the study explains.

To raise the stakes a bit, some participants were told that the best savers would receive a reward of $5.

And then the researchers cranked up the heat.

Some of the experiments were conducted in a room that registered a brisk 67 degrees. At other times, the temperature was turned up to 77 degrees.

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And the researchers found that “participants spent more time digging through the bucket for the best deals in rooms with higher temperatures” – especially when they were incentivized to beat their competitors, with the promise of a reward.

In other experiments, the researchers manipulated the temperature when study participants were asked to engage in a sales negotiation, or bid in an auction. Higher temperatures caused participants to negotiate more aggressively for a lower price than their counterparts in colder conditions.

Interestingly, though, participating in an auction caused bidders to spend more and save less, the warmer it got. That’s because “higher temperatures will create a more aggressive buyer, willing to pay a higher price,” Sinha explained. “That buyer will try to outperform everyone, so they generally bid higher.”

So the study suggests that auctioneers might want to “hold auctions in the summer, or in a warmer room” to encourage participants to make higher bids. In a negotiation, participants might want to set to thermostat to a more moderate temperature, to encourage “more integrative decision making and compromise.”

And if you want to save big bucks on your next grocery haul, you might want to do your coupon clipping in the sauna.

Ultimately, the study’s authors hypothesize, it’s not just about heat. They suggest that “other ways to induce discomfort,” like uncomfortable seating, noise or crowding, could also “incite hostile aggression, which could have similar effects.”

Just what you need – an uncomfortably hot, noisy, crowded store full of coupon binder-toting shelf clearers who are more aggressive than ever. On the bright side, those conditions could make you more deal-hungry too, so at least it’ll be a fair fight.

The coupon craze may be cooling off lately. But if you’re still interested in saving – it seems you might do well to turn up the heat.

Photo by michael_swan

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