Boost Your Creativity By Dimming The Lights

Boost Your Creativity By Dimming The Lights

Want to feel more creative in about three seconds? Research suggests all you have to do to spark your creativity is turn the lights down low.

Photo by Trish Leite.

German researchers conducted six experiments leading to this thesis. In one test, 114 undergraduates were given four creative insight problems in groups with differing light levels (dim, office-level and bright light). The results, Pacific Standard reports:

Those in the dimly lit room solved significantly more problems correctly than those in the brightly lit room. They also felt freer and less inhibited than their intensely illuminated counterparts. Participants in the bright and the conventionally lit rooms did not differ significantly from one another on either scale.

If you can’t control the light levels in your office, don’t worry. The researchers also found that just thinking about being in the dark may be enough to boost creativity. While you’re at it, have a beer in the dim light or while thinking about darkness for even more idea-generating goodness.

Dim Lighting Sparks Creativity [Pacific Standard]


  • Also, have a ready explanation as to why you are sitting in your office during working hours with the lights turned low and some Barry White music in the background. 🙂

  • Back when I worked at Microsoft and was in a 4 to 12 person conference room that had been turned into a “contractor bay” (I was not yet salaried), the team norm was a dimly lit room. If you didn’t like it, you could bring a desk lamp, but it better not point anywhere but your desk. For people who are visually distracted, dimming the lights in multi-person offices/cube halls helps minimize the distractions and increases efficiency.

    The tradition continued even when we turned salaried and moved to offices shared with 1 other person.

    We weren’t the only people or only team there to do this. If you’re stuck working in a creative endeavour with other people around you, and are the type who gets distracted easily from things in your field of vision that you didn’t choose to put there, it really makes a difference.

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