Seeing light bulbs might foster bright ideas, scientists now find.
Yet another reason to avoid florescent bulbs and to overturn the government’s plan to mandate florescent light bulbs. Readers please respond with the details of the government mandate and other good reasons to use incandescent light bulbs.
The concept that reaching an insight is much like shining a light into a dark place goes back to at least Plato. It was this philosophical analogy that actually led social psychologist Michael Slepian at Tufts University to wonder if light bulbs might actually spur insights.
“Insight has been studied for decades; it is still a very mysterious phenomenon,” Slepian said.
The researchers first wanted to see if light bulbs actually were unconsciously linked to enlightenment in people’s minds. In a preliminary experiment, 73 college students watched as words were flashed across a computer screen. They viewed 10 words associated with insight – such as create, conceive, and envision -10 other words and 20 non-words. They were then asked to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible if what they were shown was a word or non-word.
The students had either a bare, unshaded incandescent 25-Watt light bulb or an overhead fluorescent light turned on in the room. Volunteers exposed to the light bulb responded quicker to words linked to insight than other words, supporting the notion that light bulbs were indeed connected to insight in their minds.
To see if light bulbs could actually promote insights, Slepian and his colleagues next gave college students spatial, math and verbal problems to solve and had either a bare light bulb or an overhead fluorescent light turned on in the room partway into the problem. The volunteers either solved the problems faster or more often with the light bulb than with the fluorescent light.