Ambient Lighting and How it Messes With Our Emotions

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by ssoosay

I’m gonna throw a term at you some people wouldn’t know how to catch: chromotherapy. Simply put, it’s the use of colors to heal.  A psychology lesson in an auto blog?  … well, yes.  With more cars coming out with new flashier and more colorful interiors, it’s important to realize that the light and colors you probably took for granted might be positively or adversely affecting your mood.  And this could ultimately affect how you drive.

Imagine yourself in a room filled with one of the following colors: Red, Green or Black.  Imagine, standing in that room filled with nothing but that color for hours, what do you think you’d feel?

Red making you a little on nerve?
Green calming you down?
Black making you feel uneasy or fearful?

According to http://psychology.about.com:
“Red is also considered an intense, or even angry, color that creates feelings of excitement or intensity.
Green is thought to relieve stress and have a healing effect.
Black is often used as a symbol of menace or evil”

Doesn't help calm you down, does it?

At a certain level or concentration of color, certain enzymes are triggered resulting in an emotional response which we recognize as “stress” “calmness” “happiness,” etc. “The emotions are created based on the secretions of these enzymes that are associated with certain light wavelengths and there are certain triggers.” explains Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford technical leader for Design. So it would seem that light and colors may have some impact on us mentally, but what does that have to do with driving?

Let me give you an example of a car that implements this understanding in it’s interior design very effectively.

The 2013 Ford Focus offers ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white and green lights as its color palette of interior ambient lighting. Albeit being less overwhelming, this lighting subsequently puts you in that “room” full of color. The various color schemes give the driver a choice to amplify a particular feeling. It can help the driver be more alert or generally feel better, maybe he/she needs to calm down a bit so he flips it to blue.  “We’re opening this [ambient lighting choices] up to let the customer decide, it’s offering them a choice. Dassanayake said.

So imagine driving down the road at night with a substantial, yet not overbearing, amount of blue light encompassing the interior while pumping out some smooth Blues music… sounds pretty relaxing. But now imagine the same music with an orange light… the mood that the music is promoting doesn’t seem to suit the environment quite as well. And now we are having the options to change the lighting to better fit our target mood. Personally,  I’d prefer to have orange ambient lighting – I think it would keep me more alert and focused.

Next time you’re riding down the road take notice what colors are being introduced to your senses and how, or if, they are effecting you psychologically. You might be surprised by what you notice when consciously examine what may be subconsciously happening in your car.

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