Ray of Hope: Hopelessness Increases Preferences for Brighter Lighting

Ping Dong, Xun (Irene) Huang*, Chen Bo Zhong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Does bright lighting seem more desirable when people feel hopeless? Common parlance such as “ray of hope” depicts an association between hope and the perception of brightness. Building on research in embodied cognition and conceptual metaphor, we examined whether incidental emotion of hopelessness can affect brightness perception, which may influence people’s preference for 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 prospects. Taken together, these results suggest that hopeless feeling seems to bias people’s perceptual judgment of ambient brightness, which may potentially impact their electricity consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015


  • ambient brightness
  • conceptual metaphor
  • electricity consumption
  • emotion
  • hopelessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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