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Thu, 18 October 2018 00:38:25

Psychology of Light More Important Than We Realise Says Electrical Professional EJ Barnes

Most people spend more time considering paint colours than they do on choosing the right light colour and intensity. Discover why lighting has a profound effect on people.

Psychology of Light More Important Than We Realise Says Electrical Professional

EJ Barnes, proprietor of EJ Electrical Works, says there's more to light than meets the eye. It influences moods and perceptions, and consumers can use an understanding of this phenomenon to set the tone in home and business settings.

"Atmosphere is very important," he says, "but most people spend more time considering paint colours than they do on choosing the right light colour and intensity. Lighting has a profound effect on people."

"Sometimes, people use light very effectively without knowing quite why they chose a certain approach to lighting. But, if you read up on how light affects us, consumers can use that knowledge consciously and strategically in both home and business environments."

Cool and Bright vs Warm and Dim

Barnes explains light using two contrasts: cool and bright or warm and dim: "As with colour, there are many shades in between," he says, "but if you understand these two, you're off to a good start."

Here's the theory: as diurnal creatures, how alert and on-the-go we are depends a lot on light. As the sun rises and brightens, we wake up. Then we're on the move, getting things done. By late afternoon, the light is warmer, and it dims towards sunset. Before people had artificial light, including fire, they'd settled down and gone to sleep when it became dark.

"There's research that shows that it's not just the sun that influences us," says Barnes. "Artificial light has a similar effect. We're at our brightest and most energetic when light is bright and cool. So, if consumers were lighting an office or a gym, for instance, they'd choose bright and cool lighting. When light is dimmer and warmer, people tend to relax. The light tells us we've done our work for the day, and it's time to wind down."

Practical Examples of Light Psychology in Action

The restaurant and fast food industries provides a good example of how people can use light to influence mood, although Barnes says he has seen some outlets getting it wrong too. "At a fast-food outlet, they want people to choose and order quickly, eat their food, and leave," he explains. "Then, the table's available for the next customer. Now think about lighting: it's bright and cool. That's good for decision-making and keeping you on the go."

"Restaurants don't want you to rush. They want customers to settle down, relax and take your time, preferably through two to three courses. The longer customers are there, the more food and beverages they're likely to order, so they create an atmosphere that promotes relaxation with warmer, dimmer light."

"Take a look at retail stores too," says Barnes. "A supermarket wants its customers to jog through, get your business done, and leave. They don't want people strolling around looking at every purchase option for ages. The light is right for quick decision-making and energy. But if a business is selling luxury Persian carpets, businesses want people to feel relaxed, take their time, and examine all your merchandise."

Light Psychology at Home

Most people already use light psychology at home, but Barnes feels that being more alert to what we're doing can be helpful: "Think about a bedroom. Bright, cool light doesn't work there at all. Of course, if consumers want it, they can get it, but while it looks great, it could affect their ability to sleep after you put the lights out."

"People probably already use low lights or candlelight to create an intimate atmosphere in entertainment areas, but if they're hosting a gathering where they want people to be more on the go, they can adjust the lighting to promote a higher-energy atmosphere and greater mental alertness."

Getting it Right

Barnes tells us that lighting design is a field of its own, but he doesn't always have a designer giving him specifications. Often, it's an entrepreneur with a space to fit out for business, or someone renovating to create a dream house. At times like these, he uses what he has learned about light and how we interact with it to create lighting designs that work for his clients. The psychology of light is one of the factors he keeps in mind.

Written & Syndicated by Baxton Media.




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