RESEARCH SUMMARY DETAIL

Impact of Dressing Room Lighting on Shoppers’ Perceptions

Author's Title: The Effects of Dressing Room Lighting on Consumers’ Perceptions of Self and Environment
Author(s) Name: Anne Baumstarck and Nam-Kyu Park
Year of Publication: 2010
Search Related Keywords: Cognition/Perception  Female  Guest/Shopper  Lighting/Daylighting Design  Preference/Attitude  Quality of Life and Well Being  Retail/Store Planning 

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Design Issue
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This study investigated the effects of lighting direction (i.e., frontal, overhead) in clothing store dressing rooms on shoppers’ perception of their physical appearance, their environment, and their emotional state.


  • Consumers often make final clothing evaluations (e.g., personal appearance, color, texture, design) and purchase decisions in retail dressing rooms (All Dressed Up, 2006; Fitting Designs, 1999; Mang, 2008; The Perfect Fit, 2007), indicating the dressing room atmosphere may impact the likelihood of a lost sale.
  • Though previous studies have evaluated the effects of lighting in other areas of a retail store environment, research has failed to focus specifically on the dressing room area or to use the Mehrabian-Russell framework (Areni & Kim, 1994; Park & Farr, 2007; Summers & Herbert, 2001) to evaluate how lighting affects consumer mood and behavior in retail settings.
  • Little research on dressing room lighting exists using the lighting conditions recommended by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s (IESNA) standards.
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Design Criteria
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Author Identified:
  • Design dressing rooms with occupant-controlled flexible lighting (e.g., both frontal and overhead lighting) to adapt to varying shopper preferences. When this is not possible, install frontal lighting instead of overhead lighting to make the space feel more spacious, with less glare and shadowing.

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Key Concepts
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  • There was not a significant difference between overhead and frontal lighting for overall emotional state (i.e., arousal and pleasure), self-evaluation (i.e., facial and body appearance), or dressing room evaluation.
  • Within the emotional state construct, frontal lighting was marginally more stimulating than overhead lighting. However, this finding did not reach significance.
  • Within the self-evaluation construct, subjects reported more shadowing on their faces in overhead lighting than in the frontal lighting. subjects’ indicated the importance of appearance, with attractiveness or slenderness (12) and shadowing (5) being mentioned in their comments. Based on comments, frontal lighting was favored by shoppers who focused on their appearance.
  • Within the dressing room evaluation construct, subjects reported rooms as less cramped in the frontal lighting condition. However, lighting did not affect how small/large subjects perceived the room. subjects’ comments for the dressing room environment were primarily negative for overhead lighting and about equally positive and negative for frontal lighting.
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Research Method
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  • subjects (60; 100% female; age range between 18 and 33; average age 22; 78% White, 12% Asian, 10% Hispanic) were regular store customers (50%) or recruited by friends or through advertisements (50%) who were visiting a boutique store (822 ft2; 18’10” x 43’8” x 14’1” high) located in the southeastern United States.
  • Dressing rooms (2) were identical in shape, size (4’1” x 7’4” x 7’8” high), surface finishes, and furnishings/accessories (chair, wall-mounted mirror, hook). One dressing room had frontal lighting (4’ fluorescent sidelights mounted at each side of the mirror) and the other had overhead lighting (track-mounted incandescent lamps). IESNA minimum recommendations (80 CRI, 3000K) were met. To reduce the potential of a preference for a type of light fixture light sources were not shielded.
  • The study was generally conducted Mondays through Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Shoppers completed demographic/background surveys upon arrival to the boutique. They then shopped within the boutique for clothes they might purchase and were randomly assigned to one of two dressing rooms. Shoppers completed a questionnaire while trying on the clothes in front of the mirror.
  • questionnaires collected information related to the following:
    • Lighting quality was assessed using bipolar semantic differentials (5; e.g., warm/cool, bright/dim).
    • Emotional states were assessed using bipolar semantic differentials (e.g., wide awake/sleepy, aroused/unaroused) taken from Mehrabian and Russell’s pleasure arousal scales (1974) on a 7-point scale.
    • Shoppers’ personal appearance evaluations were measured on scales (2) for facial appearance (five bipolar items; e.g., good/bad, young/old, healthy/unhealthy) and overall body appearance (three bipolar items; positive/negative, attractive/unattractive, slender/heavy).
    • Dressing room evaluations were measured using bipolar items (9; e.g., inconvenient/convenient, cramped/roomy, dirty/clean).
  • Shoppers were given space to make comments on lighting and/or suggest how the dressing rooms could be improved.
  • A pilot study was conducted prior to the main study to identify possible problems with the questionnaire, testing method, or timing.
  • DesCRIptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha test, and independent sample t-tests were used to analyze the data.
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Limitations
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  • All variables may not have been accounted for due to the field study design.
  • The small sample size may limit the generalizability of the findings.
  • subjects’ physical size and pre-existing self-image were not controlled for (though clothing sizes ranged from 0 to 6).
  • Previous research has not focused on dressing rooms; therefore, this study drew on general lighting research for guidance and comparison.
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Commentary
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Tables of results; dressing room floor plan and section; and photographs of the dressing rooms in both lighting conditions were included. Future research examining the effect of lighting direction; other lighting variables impacting arousal and pleasure; the influence of perceptions of roominess on overall dressing room experience; effects of negative impressions of overhead lighting on the overall boutique and buying decisions; changes in emotional states; and the holistic dressing room experience was recommended.



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Adapted From
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Author(s): Anne Baumstarck and Nam-Kyu Park, Ph.D., University of Florida
Article Title: The Effects of Dressing Room Lighting on Consumers’ Perceptions of Self and Environment
Publisher: Interior Design Educators Council
Publication: Journal of Interior Design
Publication Type: Refereed Journal
Date of Publication: 2010
ISSN: 1071-7641
Volume: 35
Issue: 2
Pages: 37-49