Psychology of Light: How Light Influences the Health and Psyche

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2015.610119   PDF   HTML   XML   6,848 Downloads   9,528 Views   Citations


Light is the stimulus that influences most the human perception, but also the psychophysical well-being of the individual in everyday life. This paper analyzes the light from a psychological point of view, investigating the relationships between light-based emotions and behaviours, and the psychophysical responses to lit environment by the perceivers in different experiential contexts. Light becomes, therefore, “Cognitive Map” and “Emotional Driver”, but also a “Gestaltic Device” for the perceiver, in order to understand and interpret the external reality. Even the dark and lighting deprivation were considered, not only as environmental conditioning on the mood (Fusco, 2005a), but also through the psychological analysis of specific light manipulation techniques, such as “Sendep” and “Ganzfeld Effect”. Finally, some guidelines were shown to improve health and wellness of the individual exposed to the light in a given environment (healthy lighting), getting to define an “Ecological” approach to light and lighting perception in human life, that would also involve some light-based techniques, such as Light Design and Light Art.

Share and Cite:

Tomassoni, R. , Galetta, G. and Treglia, E. (2015) Psychology of Light: How Light Influences the Health and Psyche. Psychology, 6, 1216-1222. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.610119.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Arnheim, R. (1954). Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. Berkeley-Los Angeles, CA: California University Press.
[2] Badia, P., Myers, B., Boecker, M., & Culpepper, J. (1991). Bright Light Effects on Body Temperature, Alertness. EEG and Behavior. Physiology & Behavior, 50, 583-588.
[3] Berry, P. C. (1961). The Effect of Colored Illumination upon Perceived Temperature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 45, 248-250.
[4] Birren F. (1969a). Light, Colour and Environment: A Thorough Presentation of Facts on the Biological and Psychological Effects of Colour. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
[5] Birren, F. (1969b). Physiological Implication of Colour and Illumination.
[6] Boyce, P. (2003). Human Factors in Lighting. London/New York: Taylor & Francis.
[7] Boyce, P. R., Eklund, N. H., & Simpson, S. N. (2000). Individual Lighting Control: Task Performance, Mood, and Illuminance. Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 29, 131-142.
[8] Bruce, V., & Green, P. R. (1990). Visual Perception: Physiology. Psychology and Ecology. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd.
[9] Burg, A. (1967). Light Sensitivity as Related to Age and Sex. Perceptual Motor Skills, 24, 1275-1288.
[10] Butterfield, J. (1996). The Art of Light and Space. New York, NY: Abbeville Press.
[11] Collins, B. (1993). Evaluation of Subjective Response to Lighting distributions: A Literature Review. NISTIR 519, Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology.
[12] Daurat, A., Aguirre, A., Foret, J., Gonnet, P., Keromes, A., & Benoit, O. (1993). Bright Light Affects Alertness and Performance Rhythms during a 24-h Constant Routine. Physiology and Behavior, 5, 929-936.
[13] Flynn, J. E. (1973). The Psychology of Light: Orientation as a Visual Task. Electrical Consultant, 1, 10-21.
[14] Flynn, J. E. (1977). A Study of Subjective Responses to Low Energy and Nonuniform Lighting Systems. Lighting Design and Applications, 7, 6-15.
[15] Flynn, J. E. (1988). Lighting Design Decisions as Interventions in Human Visual Space. In J. Nasar (Ed.), Environmental Aesthetics: Theories, Research and Application (pp. 156-169). New York: Cambridge University Press.
[16] Flynn, J. E., Hendrick, C., Spencer, T., & Martyniuk, O. (1979). A Guide to Methodology Procedures for Measuring Subjective Impressions in Lighting. Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 8, 95-110.
[17] Flynn, J. E., Spencer, T. J., Martyniuk, O., & Hendrick, C. (1973). Interim Study of Procedures for Investigating the Effect of Light on Impression and Behavior. Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 3, 87-94.
[18] Fusco, A. (2005). Analisipsicologica di alcuneopere di Anton Chekhov: Unastorianoiosa. In A. Fusco, & R. Tomassoni (Eds.), Psicologia e comunicazioneletteraria (pp. 146-170). Milan: Franco Angeli.
[19] Fusco, A. (2005). Analisipsicologica di alcuneopere di Anton Chekhov: L’uvaspina. In A. Fusco, & R. Tomassoni (Eds.), Psicologia e comunicazioneletteraria (pp. 99-105). Milan: Franco Angeli.
[20] Fusco, A. (2012). Dikter (pp. 48, 62, 80). Frosinone: Teseo Editore.
[21] Fusco, A., Tomassoni, R., & Grimaldi, D. (2011). Differenze e affinitàpsicologichetra Ibsen e Bracco e tra Bergman e Pirandello. In A. Fusco, & R. Tomassoni (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Congress on “Similarities and Differences between Scandinavian and Italian Culture” (pp. 74). Frosinone: Teseo Editore.
[22] Galetta, G. (2014). An Introduction to the Aesthetic Precognition: Threat or Opportunity for Contemporary Art? Universal Journal of Psychology, 2, 248-254.
[23] Gibson, J. J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
[24] Ginthner, D. A. (2002). Lighting: Its Effect on People and Spaces.
[25] Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.
[26] Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S., & Ryan, R. L. (1998). With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature. Washington DC: Island Press.
[27] Kepes, G. (1944). Language of Vision. Chicago, IL: Paul Theobald & Co.
[28] Lam, W. M. C. (1992). Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
[29] Mahnke, F., & Mahnke, R. (1987). Color and Light in Man-Made Environments. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
[30] Martindale, C., Locher, P., & Petrov, V. M. (Eds.) (2007). Evolutionary and Neurocognitive Approaches to Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing.
[31] McIntyre, I. M., Norman, T. R., Burrows, G. D., & Armstrong, S. M. (1989). Human Melatonin Suppression by Light Is Intensity Dependent. Journal of Pineal Research, 6, 149-156.
[32] Sabra, A. I. (1981). Theories of Light: From Descartes to Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[33] Solomon, P. et al. (Eds.) (1961). Sensory Deprivation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[34] Tiller, D. K. (1990). Toward a Deeper Understanding of Psychological Aspects of Lighting. Journal of the Illumination Engineering Society, 19, 155-160.
[35] Tomassoni, R. (2014). Psychological Aspects in the Hyppolitus by Euripides. Quarterly Journal of the Association of Psychology and Psychiatry for Adults and Children, 21, 2-3.
[36] Veitch, J. A., & Newsham, G. R. (1998). Lighting Quality and Energy-Efficiency Effects on Task Performance, Mood, Health, Satisfaction and Comfort. Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, 27, 107-129.
[37] Wackermann, J., Pütz, P., & Allefeld, C. (2008). Ganzfeld-Induced Hallucinatory Experience, Its Phenomenology and Cerebral Electrophysiology. Cortex, 44, 1376-1378.
[38] Zeki, S. (1999). Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
[39] Zeki, S. (2008). Con gli occhi del cervello: Immagini, luci, colori. Rome: Di Renzo Editore.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.