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Illuminating Hopelessness Study

“To quantify the potential cost of hopelessness on electricity consumption, we regressed the preference of the ideal wattage for a ceiling fixture onto the hopelessness scale and found that it costs participants on average 20.6% more electricity to feel 1 point less hopeful toward the economy and career prospect.”

– explain Ping Dong and Chen-Bo Zhong of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Canada, and Xun (Irene) Huang of Lingnan College, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, in a recent paper for Social Psychological and Personality Science (July 30, 2014).

It’s entitled : Ray of Hope : Hopelessness Increases Preferences for Brighter Lighting

“Across four studies, we found that people who feel hopeless judge the environment to be darker (Study 1). As a consequence, hopeless people expressed a greater desire for ambient brightness and higher wattage light bulbs (Studies 2 and 3).

Study 4 showed the reversal of the effect – being in a dimmer (vs. brighter) room induces greater hopelessness toward the perceived job search prospect”

The results of the studies have clear implications for policy makers, say the team :

“It is worth noting that the ambient brightness may be an effective strategy to light up the hope for people’s future. Thus, during economic recession, increased ambient lighting in public places may rekindle people’s optimism toward the prospect of the economy.”

Also see: Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Haplessness

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