You’re more likely to be deemed competent in a job interview if there’s good lighting in the room

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Good lighting could be the key to a successful job interview ‘because employers see you as more warm and competent’

  • Researchers at Loughborough University examined the impact of office lighting 
  • They tested more than 300 subjects in both Germany and the United States 
  • It has implications for the settings involving the evaluation of other individuals

Job-hunters are more likely to be deemed capable and likeable if the person interviewing them is happy with the lighting in the room.

A new study by researchers at Loughborough University examined the impact of luminosity levels in professional contexts. 

The research, conducted by Dr Olga Kombeiz and Dr Erik Dietl, from the school of business and economics, analysed more than 300 people to test their theory. 

They hope their findings will contribute to the design of better and fairer work settings in the future.

Data: Researchers at Loughborough University conducted two separate studies to test their hypothesis, which linked positive feelings and room lighting in a professional setting

HOW DID THEY REACH THEIR FINDINGS? 

Dr Olga Kombeiz and Dr Erik Dietl conducted two inter-connecting studies to test their hypothesis: a laboratory experiment and a field study in real working offices.

Both required participants to look at photos of male and female faces with neutral expressions and rate their level of warmth and competence.

One-hundred-and-sixty-one German university students took part in the first, which was hosted in a lab, while the second involved 175 full-time employees in the United States. 

 All participants were asked to rate the faces in the photos in terms of their perceived warmth and competence and rate how satisfied they were with the light in the office.

Lights of different brightness and colour temperatures were used during the experiments as the light settings considered to be the best or most satisfying to an individual is down to personal taste. 

The paper explores how positive feelings associated with and competence, which is characterised by intelligence, confidence, and assertiveness.

They addressed the theory that lighting relates to judgements of others’ warmth – how friendly and trustworthy someone is deemed to be – by conducting two inter-connecting studies: a laboratory experiment and a field study in real working offices.

Both required participants to look at photos of male and female faces with neutral expressions and rate their level of warmth and competence.

Results from a pilot study showed the images to possess ‘medium levels’ of attractiveness, warmth and competence.

One-hundred-and-sixty-one German university students took part in the first, which was hosted in a lab designed to represent an office, and the second study involved 175 full-time employees in the United States.

All participants were asked to rate the faces in the photos in terms of their perceived warmth and competence and rate how satisfied they were with the light in the office. 

Lights of different brightness and colour temperatures were used during the experiments as the light settings considered to be the best or most satisfying to an individual is down to personal taste.  

Dr Kombeiz and Dr Dietl found in both studies that the more satisfied participants were with the light in the office, the more likely they were to deem the faces in the photos as warm and competent.

They found the same pattern of results in the German laboratory experiment and the US field study, which they say demonstrates, at least in Western Culture, that the satisfaction with light appears to be related to positive judgements of other people.

Analysis: The study, by Dr Olga Kombeiz and Dr Erik Dietl from the School of Business and Economics, analysed more than 300 people in different countries

Analysis: The study, by Dr Olga Kombeiz and Dr Erik Dietl from the School of Business and Economics, analysed more than 300 people in different countries

Dr Kombeiz said: ‘Person perception and the evaluation of others in work contexts are very important.

‘The first impressions that we have about other people can impact judgements and decisions.

‘First impressions occur automatically and at least partly subconsciously and may be influenced by factors such as light in the office. 

‘Our research contributes to the understanding of how affective processes – satisfaction with light – relate to judgements of others.

‘From a practical point of view, this has implications for the design of settings involving the evaluation of other individuals.

‘For example, in order to avoid unfair or biased judgements of job applicants, the lighting conditions during a job interview should be the same across all applicants and/or decision-makers should be able to adjust the lighting conditions so that they are satisfied with them.

‘This research underlines the importance of subjective appraisals of our environment. 

‘In addition to light, we intend to take a more holistic approach by examining other features of the workplace.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Ergonomics.

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