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Study: Bright Lights, Big Emotions

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(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

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TORONTO, CANADA (CBS) – Have a difficult decision to make? You might want to dim the lights while you ponder your options.

According to new research from the University of Toronto Scarborough, bright lights intensify emotions.

Researcher Alison Jing Xu, an assistant professor of management at UTSC and the Rotman School of Management, says that her team asked people to rate a wide variety of things over the course of the six studies used to get the results, including the spiciness of a chicken wing and how attractive certain people were.

What the scientists found is that under brighter lighting, emotions were more intense. For example, the chicken wing was spicier and the person more attractive.

Xu tells the university’s website that she hypothesizes that light is felt as heat, and the perception of heat can trigger strong emotions.

Conversely then, dimming the lights might help you make more rational, practical decisions by dulling emotions.

“Bright light intensifies the initial emotional reaction we have to different kinds of stimulus including products and people,” Xu says.

Thus, “turning down the light, effortless and unassuming as it may seem, can reduce emotionality in everyday decisions, most of which take place under bright light,” Xu and her co-author, Aparna Labroo, write.

To read more on the study, click here.

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