The Psychological Effects of Color


Why is color such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning.
Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
How do people respond to different colors? Select a color below to learn more about the possible effects and find reactions from other readers:

Black

  • According to color psychology, these are the characteristics of black:
  • Black absorbs all light in the color spectrum.
  • Black is often used as a symbol of menace or evil, but it's also popular as an indicator of power. It's used to represent treacherous characters such as Dracula and is often associated with witchcraft.
  • Black is associated with death and mourning in many cultures. It's also associated with unhappiness, sexuality, formality, and sophistication.
  • In ancient Egypt, black represented life and rebirth.
  • Black is often used in fashion because of its slimming quality.
  • Consider how black is used in language: Black Death, blackout, black cat, blacklist, black market, black tie, black belt.


White

  • According to color psychology, these are the characteristics of white:
  • White represents purity or innocence. While a bride wearing white was often thought to convey the bride's virginity, blue was once a traditional color worn by brides to symbolize purity.
  • White is bright and can create a sense of space or add highlights. Designers often use the color white to make rooms seem larger and more spacious.
  • White is also described as cold, bland, and sterile. Rooms painted completely white can seem spacious, but empty and unfriendly. Hospitals and hospital workers use white to create a sense of sterility.
  • Some of the positive meanings that white can convey include cleanliness, freshness, and simplicity. The color white often seems like a blank slate, symbolizing a new beginning or a fresh start.
  • On the negative side, white can seem stark, cold, and isolated. Consider how a large, white, empty room might seem boring, bland, and stark.


Red

  • Red is a bright, warm color that evokes strong emotions.
  • Red is associated with love, warmth, and comfort.
  • Red is also considered an intense, or even angry, a color that creates feelings of excitement or intensity


Blue

  • Blue is described as a favorite color by many people and is the color most preferred by men.
  • Because blue is favored by so many people, it is often viewed as a non-threatening color that can seem conservative and traditional.
  • Blue calls to mind feelings of calmness or serenity. It is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure, and orderly.
  • Blue is often seen as a sign of stability and reliability. Businesses that want to project an image of security often utilize blue in their advertising and marketing efforts.
  • Blue can also create feelings of sadness or aloofness. Consider how a painting that heavily features blue, such as those produced by Picasso during his "blue period," can seem so lonely, sad, or forlorn.
  • Blue is often used to decorate offices because research has shown that people are more productive in blue rooms.
  • Blue is one of the most popular colors, but it is one of the least appetizing. Some weight loss plans even recommend eating your food off of a blue plate. Blue rarely occurs naturally in food aside from blueberries and some plums. Also, humans are geared to avoid foods that are poisonous and blue coloring in food is often a sign of spoilage or poison.
  • Blue can also lower the pulse rate and body temperature.


Green

  • Green is a cool color that symbolizes nature and the natural world. Perhaps because of its strong associations with nature, green is often thought to represent tranquility, good luck, health, and jealousy.
  • Researchers have also found that green can improve reading ability. Some students may find that laying a transparent sheet of green paper over reading material increases reading speed and comprehension.
  • Green has long been a symbol of fertility and was once the preferred color choice for wedding gowns in the 15th-century. Even today, green M & M's (an American chocolate candy) are said to send a sexual message.
  • Green is often used in decorating for its calming effect. For example, guests waiting to appear on television programs often wait in a “green room” to relax.


Yellow

  • Some of the key characteristics that are often associated with the color yellow include:
  • Warmth: Yellow is a bright color that is often described as cheery and warm.
  • Difficult to read: Yellow is also the most fatiguing to the eye due to the high amount of light that is reflected. Using yellow as a background on paper or computer monitors can lead to eyestrain or vision loss in extreme cases.
  • Frustration: Yellow can also create feelings of frustration and anger. While it is considered a cheerful color, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms and babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.
  • Energetic: Yellow can also increase metabolism.
  • Attention-grabbing: Since yellow is the most visible color, it is also the most attention-getting color. Yellow can be used in a small amount to draw notice, such as on traffic sign or advertisements.


Purple

Color psychology suggests that colors can have a powerful impact on our moods and even behaviors. Each color supposedly has its own effect, but the feeling that each color produces can vary based on experience and culture. Purple is one color that can lead to differing feelings, emotions, and associations.

Brown

  • Brown is a natural color that evokes a sense of strength and reliability. It's often seen as solid, much like the earth, and it's a color often associated with resilience, dependability, security, and safety.
  • Brown can also create feelings of loneliness, sadness, and isolation. In large quantities, it can seem vast, stark, and empty, like an enormous desert devoid of life.
  • Brown brings to mind feelings of warmth, comfort, and security. It's often described as natural, down-to-earth, and conventional, but brown can also be sophisticated.
  • Darker colors like brown tend to be associated with more negative emotions.


Orange

  • Orange is a combination of yellow and red and is considered an energetic color.
  • Orange calls to mind feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth.
  • Orange is often used to draw attention, such as in traffic signs and advertising.
  • Orange is energetic, which is perhaps why many sports teams use orange in their uniforms, mascots, and branding.
  • Orange is also the color of bright sunsets and fruits such as oranges and tangerines, so many people might associate the color with the beauty of a setting sun or the refreshing taste of citrus.
  • Orange is also linked to autumn and the color of dying leaves and pumpkins.
  • The color is also heavily linked to Halloween in the United States, so it can sometimes have a dark or even cartoonish association.


Pink

  • Pink is essentially a light red hue and is typically associated with love and romance.
  • Pink is thought to have a calming effect. One shade known as "drunk-tank pink" is sometimes used in prisons to calm inmates. Sports teams sometimes paint the opposing team's locker room pink to keep the players passive and less energetic.
  • Pink is often described as a feminine color, perhaps largely due to associations, people form during early childhood. "Girls toys" are usually pink and purple, while "boys toys" are often red, yellow, green, or blue.
  • Since the color is so strongly associated with femininity, people sometimes associate the color with qualities that are often thought of as feminine, such as softness, kindness, nurturance, and compassion.




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