Research from the University of Toronto Scarborough suggests that our emotions, both positive and negative, are intensified by bright light. Participants in the study “found the women more attractive, felt better about positive words and worse about negative words, and drank more of the ‘favourable’ juice and less of the ‘unfavourable’ juice”. Therefore, if opinions feel stronger in brighter rooms, does that mean that if we turn down the light we could make more rational decisions?

In the classic design book In Praise of Shadows, the author Junichiro Tanizaki writes that “only in dim half-light is the true beauty of Japanese lacquer revealed”. His contemplation on the role of shadows signifies the importance of light – and lack of it – as an aid to reveal the true nature of things.

This truism has a wide range of applications. From personal reflection to interior design, and even attempts to bring people together (like Melbourne’s recent fantastic White Night event), playing with light can draw out feelings, deliver experiences and alter mood. It can make us more open, or cause us to exhibit our emotions more intensely. The most important takeaway is that sometimes revelations show themselves in shades and shadows. What you need to consider is having the right light, in the right place, for the right time.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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