The use of language to express thermal sensation suggests heat acclimatization by Indonesian people

The purpose of this study was to explore whether there is evidence of heat acclimatization in the words used to express thermal sensation. A total of 458 urban Japanese and 601 Indonesians participated in a questionnaire. In addition, in a preliminary survey, 39 native English speakers in the UK participated. Our results showed that (1) for Indonesians, the closest thermal descriptor of a feeling of thermal comfort was ‘cool’ (75%) followed by ‘slightly cool’ (7%), ‘slightly cold’ (5%) and ‘cold’ (5%), while Japanese responses were distributed uniformly among descriptors ‘cool’, ‘slightly cool’, ‘neither’, ‘slightly warm’, and ‘warm’; (2) the closest thermal descriptors of a feeling of discomfort for Indonesians were less affected by individual thermal susceptibility (vulnerability) than those for Japanese; (3) in the cases where ‘cool’ and ‘slightly cold’ were imagined in the mind, the descriptors were cognized as a thermal comfortable feeling by 97% and 57% of Indonesians, respectively; (4) the most frequently voted choice endorsing hot weather was ‘higher than 32°C’ for Indonesians and ‘higher than 29°C’ for Japanese respondents; for cold weather, ‘lower than 15°C’ for Japanese and ‘lower than 20°C’ for Indonesians. In summary, the descriptor ‘cool’ in Indonesians connotes a thermally comfortable feeling, but the inter-zone between hot and cold weather that was judged in the mind showed a upward shift when compared to that of Japanese. It is suggested that linguistic heat acclimatization exists on a cognitive level for Indonesians and is preserved in the words of thermal descriptors.