Go Away From the Light -- To Make Good Decisions

We have an assistant principal I adore but who says he is very affected by light and wears these really outlandish glasses at night that look like sunglasses but deaden the light so it's more soothing.  Now I'm thinking he may really be onto something.

A new study has found that light affects our decisions.  "The next time you want to turn down the emotional intensity before making an important decision, you may want to dim the lights first," newswise.com reports.

Researchers in Canada discovered that human emotion, whether positive or negative, is felt more intensely under bright light.

“Other evidence shows that on sunny days people are more optimistic about the stock market, report higher wellbeing and are more helpful while extended exposure to dark, gloomy days can result in seasonal affective disorder,” the Web site quotes Alison Jing Xu, assistant professor of management at University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management and a study author

Ironically, and somewhat distressingly, she adds that, contrary to these results, "We found that on sunny days depression-prone people actually become more depressed,” she says, pointing to peaks in suicide rates during late spring and summer when sunshine is abundant."

Xu and her team asked participants to rate a wide range of things—the spiciness of chicken-wing sauce, the aggressiveness of a fictional character, how attractive someone was, their feelings about specific words, and the taste of two juices—under different lighting conditions.
"The results: under bright lights emotions are felt more intensely," newswise notes. In the brighter room,participants wanted spicier chicken wing sauce, thought the fictional character was more aggressive, found the women more attractive, felt better about positive words and worse about negative words, and drank more of the “favorable” juice and less of the “unfavorable” juice.
Xu says the effect bright light has on our emotional system may be the result of it being perceived as heat, and the perception of heat can trigger our emotions. “Bright light intensifies the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus including products and people,” she tells newswise.
The majority of everyday decisions are also made under bright light, the site points out. So turning down the light may help you make more rational decisions or even settle negotiations more easily. 
Maybe our assistant principal is a lot smarter than I ever knew!


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