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IES Research Symposium II

Light + Behavior – Light’s Influence on Human Behavior

April 6-8, 2014
Cleveland, Ohio

Behavior is the output produced by people in response to physical and social stimulation. Lighting can change the physical stimulation experienced by people so it is certainly one of the many factors that affect behavior.

The symposium looked at three application areas; education, outdoor environments and healthcare, with both designers and researchers as speakers.

So what did we learn?

For educational facilities, particularly classrooms, it is important to have sufficient daylight to ensure the correct circadian timing of teenagers. It is also necessary to avoid glare, flicker and high contrast, large area, repetitive décor patterns. This last requirement is in conflict with the desire of some designers to use the décor to stimulate the students.

For outdoor environments there is a conflict between the desire for interest in the scene and the desire for safety. Very non-uniform lighting may be interesting but is not considered safe. How this conflict should be resolved requires understanding what the priorities are for a given site.

For healthcare facilities, there are even more conflicts. Patients rarely have difficult visual tasks to perform but staff do. Patients want to be able to sleep at night but staff need to be able to monitor them. Important lighting questions for healthcare facilities are what is the value of daylight for patient outcomes and what form of lighting is best for patient safety?

Overall, our knowledge of how lighting influences behavior is limited. We often know the direction of the effect but not its magnitude. We could improve our knowledge in this area with some decent field studies. These would be expensive but the returns on investment could be great, particularly for education and healthcare facilities. As advances in light source and controls technologies take care of reducing energy-efficiency, what will differentiate one product or service provider from another will be demonstrated effects on occupants – knowledge that we need to develop now.

Download the recap of this symposium.

Download the handouts and posters presented at the symposium.

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