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Incandescent affect: Turning on the hot emotional system with bright light

Authors
  • Xu, Alison Jing
  • Labroo, Aparna A.1, 2, 3, 4
  • 1 Rotman School of Management
  • 2 University of Toronto
  • 3 Kellogg School of Management
  • 4 Northwestern University
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Dec 23, 2013
Volume
24
Issue
2
Pages
207–216
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2013.12.007
Source
Elsevier
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

We propose that turning on the light can turn on the hot emotional system. Across six studies we show that ambient brightness makes people feel warmer, which increases the intensity of their affective response, including sensation seeking from spicy-hot foods, perception of aggression and sexiness (“hotness”) in others, and generating more extreme affective reactions toward positive and negative words and drinks. We suggest that these effects arise because light underlies perception of heat, and perception of heat can trigger the hot emotional system. Thus, turning down the light, effortless and unassuming as it may seem, can reduce emotionality in everyday decisions, most of which take place under bright light.

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