Dark Is Far

In the dark, visual perception becomes less focused and detailed, leading to more abstract representations. … In three experiments, darkness triggered a more global perceptual and conceptual processing style than did brightness, regardless of whether the darkness was physically manipulated or primed. Additionally, two Implicit Association Tests (IATs) showed that darkness is more strongly associated with high-level construal than with low-level construal. … Eight IATs confirmed the implicit link between darkness and four dimensions [space, time, hypothetically, social] of psychological distance. …

Participants administered more intense shocks in a learning paradigm when the room was dimly rather than well lit and when the victim was in another rather than in the same room. … Darkness caused by dim lighting or by wearing sunglasses enhanced people’s sense of anonymity and in turn increased cheating and self-interested behavior in a dictator game. … Participants evaluated a fictitious employee more positively and were more willing to donate as unpaid volunteers when sitting in a dimly lit rather than a brightly lit room. (more)

Some obvious implications: We are more near in the rich modern world, with its ubiquitous lighting. We are more in far mode in winter and at night. Since leisure time tends to be spent more at night, we are in a more far mode then. Outdoor sporty leisure, however, tends to be more in near mode.

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