You use your sense of temperature to observe how hot or cold objects or
your surroundings are. The sense of temperature is made up of distinct
sensory receptors for hot and cold located in the dermis. There are
receptors for cold than for hot. As with the sense of touch, every part
your skin senses temperature. There is a difference, however. When
something touches you, you feel which part of your body is touched. The
sense of temperature is observed in relation to your own temperature
the body surface area being exposed to coldness or heat. If you put
finger in a bucket of water, and then into water which is 3 degrees
warmer, you would hardly feel the
difference. You would feel some difference if you stuck your hand into
the buckets, and if you submerged
your entire lower arm you would feel the temperature difference even
The larger the surface area perceiving the change in temperature, the
more accurately you estimate the
difference. Lying naked in a bath, you can perceive deviations of only
0.3 degrees Celsius. When the
bathwater has cooled a little, you will perceive it as a large
Warmth and cold enter your body through your skin. By exposing a large
area of skin to warmth, more
warmth can enter the body and you would feel warmer than if you only
exposed a small part of your skin.
Because of your sense of touch, you know that something is situated
outside your body. In perceiving the
temperature outside your body, however, the cold or warmth penetrates
into you. Likewise, we do not feel
the temperature as being only of the outside of an object, but perceive
it as coming from the whole
object, as radiating from the inside.
Your sense of temperature is closely connected to your own temperature.
In other words, you do not
measure absolute temperatures, but temperatures relative to your own.
Put one hand in water at 10
degrees for three minutes, and the other in water at 40 degrees; then
submerge them both in 27 degrees.
For a few minutes, this water will seem cold to one hand and warm to
the other. This effect slowly fades
until both hands –feel the same temperature.
Temperature affects your mood more strongly than other senses. This is
partly because the sense covers
your whole body, and for another part because warmth or cold can make
your whole body feel
comfortable or uncomfortable. The cold chills you, and severe cold can
numb or even paralyse you.
Warmth can make you feel enthusiastic, but too much heat can cause
apathy. Only moderate
temperatures do not affect your mood.
You should also take account of warmth and cold for the sake of your
social life. If you want to get to
know somebody, radiate warmth. You can then expect warmth in return.
But if you feel cold, you will feel
rejected. You need to feel warmth from your fellow human beings,
otherwise you cannot live in a
community. There is a reason for such sayings as: to be left out in the
Fill three bowls of water at temperatures of 10, 27 and 40 degrees
Celsius, respectively. Hold one
hand in the 10 degree water for 3 minutes and the other in the 40
degree water. Then put both
hands in the middle bowl for some minutes. Describe your observations.
Fill two buckets with water of different temperatures. The difference
should be 3 degrees Celsius. Put
a finger in one bucket of water for 3 minutes, and then in the other
bucket. Repeat this with a hand,
and if possible with your lower arm. Keep the temperature of the water
constant (use a
thermometer!). Describe your observations.
Measure the surface temperature of an animal, for example a cow, by
placing your hands on various
parts of its body (side, legs, head, horns, nose, etc). Which parts are
warmer, which parts are colder?
Search your memory for situations in which the atmosphere between
people was warm, and
situations in which the atmosphere was cool. Discuss these with your
group. Can you discover any