The brighter the lights, the stronger our emotions, a recent study suggests.

Researchers studied subjects’ reactions to a variety of stimuli – including hot sauce, pictures of attractive people, negative words – under different lighting conditions.

When the lights were bright, participants’ reactions were extreme: they wanted spicier hot sauce, thought people were more attractive, and judged negative words to be more offensive. When the lights were dimmed, their emotions dimmed as well.

Training tip: The next time you conduct a session on a sensitive topic – or assign a training exercise where emotions could cloud learners’ judgment – consider dimming the lights to reduce the emotional response.

Xu, A.J. and Labroo, A.A. (2014). Incandescent affect: Turning on the hot emotional system with bright light. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(2), 207-216.

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