What Darkness Does to the Mind

The Atlantic:

In the summer of 2008, I moved from Pittsburgh to Chapel Hill to start my new position as a faculty member at the business school at the University of North Carolina. Although I was sad to leave Carnegie Mellon and my colleagues there, I was excited to meet new ones and to move into our new home. A few months earlier, my husband Greg and I had bought a lovely house surrounded by quiet, leafy streets just a few blocks away from the center of town.

Within a few days of moving in, Greg and I received a letter from Chapel Hill’s City Hall welcoming us and informing us that new street lighting would be added in the neighborhood in the follow­ing weeks since that part of town had recently experienced a surge in crime. In addition to raising my fears (and not making me feel any safer), the letter also piqued my curiosity, since it highlighted an intriguing assumption: that lighting would reduce crime.

Soon after Greg and I received our letter from City Hall, Chen-Bo Zhong (a professor at the University of Toronto), Vanessa Bohns (a professor at the University of Waterloo), and I designed a series of experiments to test whether darkness — or even dim lighting — would increase dishonesty.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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