Color Psychology “Experiment” [Lighting, Color, and its Effect on Mood and Grades]

Did you know that I’m also fascinated with psychology? It’s not something I’d do for a living (as to be honest, unless you’re a friend of mine, I don’t want to hear your sob story, and I’m a little too impatient to deal with stupid people), but I would very much love to do research psychology (I wouldn’t have to deal with helping stupid, melodramatic people; I’d be finding out how the brain works and such… fascinating stuff).  Psychology is quite the hobby of mine, especially when it comes to observational studies.

TL;DR: I’m changing the light bulbs in my room to one of a higher color temperature because I’m trying to see if it affects my willingness to do my homework and my mood in general, as I’ve noticed a very significant trend between mood and color temperature in years past, a trend that is supported by science.

The Full Story:


Background Information:

It’s technically not an experiment (it’s more of a self-observational study) since there’d be too many biases (as well as the potential presence of the placebo effect) involved to conduct this experiment formally and I wouldn’t be writing things down (not in a scientific sense). It is still more experimental than my other “experiments” I do, as there is some degree of the scientific method employed here.

It is important to note that my walls are blue (specifically Valspar’s Splish Splash) with one wall being made of cedar wood. It’s also notably messy with mismatching window curtains with my parents not giving a hoot about the importance of color psychology’s effect on mood and attitude. One of the windows is an eggshell white, and the other is a dark shade of mauve. My floor is a dark shade of blue carpeting. This is important because the colors in my work environment (in this case, my room) also play an important role in color psychology. My room is also significantly messy, but this isn’t something I can easily change without having either IKEA furniture or a roommate to motivate me to keep my room clean. I also cannot get new curtains for the same reason I can’t get IKEA furniture–my parents simply don’t think it’s worth it, since they don’t really have any respect for science (or interior design, it seems) and how this can genuinely affect my grades. Thus for now, I’m focusing primarily on the lighting (taking into account how the light reflects off of and complements the existing colors in my room).

Please do note that I’m not trying to externalize the fault of me not doing my homework. Of course that’s my own fault; I’m not blaming anybody else for that, apart from the fact the assignments are unspeakably boring. But I seem to be more ready to do my homework in certain environments… just, why is it that in certain lighting conditions, I feel lethargic and unmotivated? I’ve identified a potential problem, and I’m trying to tackle it with a potential solution.

What I’m Trying To Do:

The lights in my room for the past few years have been 2700K color temperature lights. In the years that have passed, I’ve noticed that certain color temperatures effect (yes, effect) certain moods from me. Even more so than light intensity, white balance is extremely important in motivating me to do my work. I’ve noticed that “warm” colors makes me feel very sleepy, while cool colors makes me feel more alert.

Therefore, I think a change of lighting is important in my room in order to create an optimal learning environment for me.

My Hypothesis And Reasoning For Such:

I haven’t yet found a hard number (in lumens) for optimal brightness level for me, although I have found that my change in mood with respect to a change in brightness isn’t even. Typically, a brighter than optimal light source doesn’t affect me nearly as much as a dimmer than optimal light by a significant amount. Thus I don’t need a specific lumen value, as long as it’s as bright as up until somewhat brighter than my optimal brightness level.

Color temperature is much different. A small difference in color temperature both ways makes a big difference in my willingness to concentrate. Note that I have legitimate erytrophotophobia, so I have a genuine phobia of red lights–but light bulbs typically aren’t red enough to be considered a “red light,” so it’s not necessarily going to affect the effects of color temperature much.

Low color temperatures causes me to feel lethargic and demotivated, especially yellow-orange light. It’s almost impossible to concentrate in it, and I feel literally sick when I’m exposed to it for long periods of time.

High color temperatures are much better than low color temperatures, but unlike the brightness levels, if the color temperature is too blue, it’s too glaring and sickly to be exposed to for long periods of time. So whereas slightly blue light would allow me to concentrate much better, for it to be bedroom-lighting is dangerous, as due to its similarity to overcast daylight, it would make my room feel gloomy, and eventually lead to some level of depression. Thus, I can’t have a color temperature that’s too high, as it would lead me to have a level of depression that’d eventually impact me more negatively than if I left my lights as is, even past my grades. I can use my blue fishtank light (the fish died long ago) for short bursts of productivity and prevent me from falling asleep if necessary.

This leaves us white light. I have noticed white light (as in, the bright white light–try saying that ten times fast–from white LEDs) not only significantly boosts my productivity, but also elevates my mood. This is perhaps because white light is the closest to natural sunlight, and as such tricks the person’s brain into thinking they’re actually outside (also, LED white light is much less yellow, so it’s even better for me than natural sunlight). I’ve noticed this in cars, in airplanes, in classrooms, and in many other places–white LED light is the best type of light for me.

I conjecture that a bright white light, preferably white LED light or 5000K-6000K CFL bulbs between 1000-1500 lumens per bulb (I need three bulbs), will significantly elevate my mood and my motivation to do my homework. My walls being blue, I’ll also get a significant amount of apparent blue light as a result of the reflection of light from my walls. If this amount isn’t enough, I’d be able to use my old blue LED fishtank light in order to provide me with a boost of blue light without having to deal with it all the time in my room. The color balance in my room will also be acceptable, as every video of mine has a sickly yellow glow to them that looks awful. Likely, any improvement in my grades will not be due to the placebo effect, as I’ve experimented with many other methods in order to see if they do affect my study habits taking the placebo effect into consideration, and there was little to no change in such. So if there is any improvement, it’s likely either the change in lighting or a different cause. Either way, what’s important is that there IS a change in my motivation, as this study is more of a side experiment than the main reason for lighting change–whatever the cause of grade improvement, what matters is my grades improved. It’s too risky to switch out light bulbs for the cause of my own experiment, as that’d put my grades at risk.

The Science Behind My Hypothesis:

Studies (which I would link to but I don’t have access to research papers I so desperately want to read past the abstract, which is yet another reason I’m desperate to be in college) have shown that color, color temperature, and the intensity of light drastically affects a person’s mood. Warmer colors are said to make a person more relaxed and laid back, while cooler light is said to be more stimulating and energizing. Blue light in particular has a similar effect to caffeine, stimulating the mind by tricking the circadian rhythm into believing that it’s daytime. This is why it is advised not to use screens (that do not have a blue light filter) before bedtime and why it’s a bad idea to have a blue night light. White light in particular is best for concentration, which is why it’s used in offices and schools. Yellow light is energizing, but instead of being stimulating (except in the case of a flashing yellow light with a klaxon blaring, which is a sign that you should be alert), it’s relaxing, which is why it’s extensively used in cafés to relax people while encouraging conversation. The only problem is, cool colors have been shown to be associated with unfriendliness and sterility (which would also be ironic, considering the… degree of entropy occurring in my room), and could cause me psychological issues in the long run. A 6500K light bulb (bluish-white) has a tint akin to that of a cloudy day, which could also cause me to be somewhat depressed due to unconscious association (somewhat so–the depression itself is unconsciously onset due to the association to gloomy days).

White light is not only consistently shown in scientific studies to boost concentration (whereas low-temperature light boosts relaxation), but I’ve experienced its effects personally.

One of the studies I read an abstract on has shown that brightness, for most people, also matters significantly, though for most others, “too bright” of a light is equally as bad as “too dim” of a light (whereas the effects of “too bright” of a light isn’t as pronounced for me).
I think this might be enough information regarding why I’m changing the light bulbs in my room. I make it SCIENCE!

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Color Psychology “Experiment” [Lighting, Color, and its Effect on Mood and Grades]

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