Top boffins have found that Plato’s philosophical analogy of light meaning a brilliant idea might have some truth behind it.
According to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, social psychologist Michael Slepian at Tufts University thinks that light bulbs might actually spur insights.
He said that while insight has been studied for decades, it is still a very mysterious phenomenon.
He tried to find out if light bulbs actually were unconsciously linked to enlightenment in people’s minds.
In a preliminary experiment, 73 college students watched as words were flashed across a computer screen. They viewed 10 words associated with insight, such as create, conceive, and envision, 10 other words and 20 non-words. They were then asked to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible if what they were shown was a word or non-word.
Students exposed to the light bulb responded quicker to words linked to insight than other words, supporting the notion that light bulbs are indeed connected to insight in their minds.
Slepian and his colleagues next gave college students spatial, math and verbal problems to solve and had either a bare light bulb or an overhead fluorescent light turned on in the room part way into the problem.
Apparently they solved the problems faster or more often with the light bulb than with the fluorescent light.
Slepian said that it was nothing to so with the type of light which was used, but rather the symbol of that light – the light bulb.
In other words if we surround ourselves with similar symbols we will end up having more insights, brilliant ideas and wizard wheezes.