The Loh Down On Science

You may be surprised by how light and dark make you feel

Isom / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Is daylight making this argument more intense?

Is there any good way to have an argument?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

Yes – in the dark!

That's because people feel intense emotions even more intensely under the harsh glare of bright lights.  So say Northwestern University researchers.  Doesn't matter if the emotions are good or bad.

Feeling happy?  You'll be happier in the sun!  Sad?  Stay out of the light, for goodness sake.  It will only make you sadder, say the scientists.

They asked people to rate a bunch of different things, from spicy chicken to the attractiveness of strangers to their feelings about words.  But – different groups of volunteers made their judgments under different lighting conditions.

In the experiment, bright lights brought out stronger emotions.  Volunteers in the bright room wanted spicier chicken, found strangers more attractive, and felt much worse about negative words.

The researchers speculate that light intensifies emotions because it's perceived as heat. And heat gets us all hot and bothered.

So take that argument outside, people.  But only after dark.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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