Cold environments are a natural stressor and impact human performance through homeostatic response. Common methods of studying cold stress use expensive climate chambers and are out of reach of traditional labs. To safely study the effects of cold in a traditional lab setting, affordable methods of producing non-hypothermic cold stress should be explored. The current study developed and tested an affordable cold stress method using ice packs by measuring human psychological and physiological response. Forty-four participants were in a thermal neutral or cooled condition. Cold condition participants wore a cooling vest and sat on a cooling pack with a mild breeze for forty-five minutes. Results showed the stressor significantly lowered subjective feelings of comfort and raised perceptions of cold (p<.001). Mean skin temperature taken continuously from three locations was also significant lower in the cold condition (p<.001). Importantly, core temperature taken from the mouth and ear was not significantly impacted (p>.05). These findings support the effectiveness of the method in producing a psychological cold stress response without resulting in hypothermia.
Morris, Drew M. and Pilcher, June J., "Non-hypothermic cold stress methodology for psychological research" (2015). Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS). 137.