Monday, March 15, 2010

Why dim lighting brings out the dark side in people

Young children often think no-one can see them when they shut their eyes and new research from the University of Toronto suggests that adults are also more inclined to believe they can get away with things when the lights are low. The researchers got students to take a maths test and then fill out an anonymous form saying how many questions they had got right. The more answers they got right the more money they received as a prize, up to a maximum of $12. Half of the students took the test in a dimly-lit room and half took the test in a brightly-lit room; the forms were coded so that the researchers knew who had taken it in which conditions. 60.5% of the participants in the dimly-lit room exaggerated their performance, whereas only 24.4% of the participants in the brightly-lit room did. A separate study found that students playing a game while wearing sunglasses were less inclined to share money even though the game was being played via a computer and the other players were in different rooms.

You can find out more about this research at

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