How lighting can change your behaviour

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Good lighting is so important – it doesn’t simply help us to see what we are doing; it can also have an incredible effect on our mental state.

Scientists have been studying how light affects human behaviour for decades, and they have made some fascinating discoveries. From colour psychology to marketing tricks to light as a form of medicine, here are some of the amazing ways in which light can be used to change our behaviour and lift our mood!

Happier homes


One of the main things people look for when touring a potential new home is the amount of light it lets in. Big windows and plentiful overhead lighting can make a space feel large and airy, while softer, more focused lighting can give the impression of warmth and cosiness. It’s no wonder that the easiest way to ‘set the mood’ is to change the lighting: most of us understand instinctively that light and mood are deeply connected.

Many researchers have also examined the impact of colour on our emotions and suggested that choosing the right shade for a room, and lighting it appropriately, can affect how it makes us feel. For example, one survey found that natural colours such as blue and green are the top choices for American homes, while other studies suggest that lavender can be calming and yellow can provide a boost of energy.

Safer cities


Walking along a dimly lit street at night can make a lot of us feel apprehensive, but research has shown that changing the colour of the light might be all that’s needed to banish that fear. For example, when a street in Granada, Spain was lit with white LEDs instead of traditional yellow streetlights, people reported feeling “safer and better”.

Blue light has also been used in public spaces. In Glasgow, Scotland there was reportedly a drop in crime rates in areas where the streets were lit with blue lights, while one train station in Tokyo, Japan noticed an 84% drop in suicide attempts on platforms lit in blue. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it seems something as simple as changing the colour of public lighting could improve the safety of our outdoor spaces.

Stylish shops


It’s no secret that big businesses use all the psychological tricks in the book to get us to spend more money, but did you know that this even extends to their lighting? Lighting is an important part of creating an overall ‘look’ for a shop, so if a company is selling luxurious, relaxing or indulgent products, then high-end, modern lighting in stores could help to create the right atmosphere for selling.

Research also suggests that shop lighting can work in combination with colour: one study found that blue interiors tend to lead to more sales than orange interiors, but combine orange interiors with soft lighting and something as seemingly unrelated as customers’ perceptions of the fairness of prices can increase.

Healthier hospitals


So much about hospitals can make us feel anxious, and plenty of researchers have looked at how light can make hospitals more comforting to our mental well-being. Light is very important for controlling the body’s circadian rhythm (or ‘body clock’), and studies have found that giving patients access to natural light is crucial for improving sleep, reducing depression and even easing physical pain.

Lighting technology is also beginning to have an impact in hospitals, with some companies producing MRI scanners that use colour-change technology to create a soothing atmosphere. Sometimes light is even prescribed as medicine – patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder suffer from the lack of light in winter, and the NHS recommends using a light box to treat it.

To make the most of great lighting in your home or business, visit Lighting Majestic here.

David Cullis Is the owner of Lighting Majestic

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