Color has an incredible effect on our minds and bodies; some hues may raise blood pressure or trigger our “fight or flight” instinct while others cause eyestrain or even headaches.
Since Sir Isaac Newton first passed light through a prism and identified the colors of the rainbow, we have studied how different hues influence our emotions and behavior. In this article we’ll look at basic color psychology principles as well as ways you can change both with simple color choices.
Colors and Emotions
Color has a profound effect on our emotions and behaviors, like red provoking anger while blue soothing aggression; red raises blood pressure, prompting our instinct to fight or flee; yellow is associated with optimism and happiness; purple can create luxurious feeling while pink can bring us softness.
Though there have been studies exploring the relationship between color and psychology, and worker alertness and productivity, they tend to be nontheoretical in approach, often seeking specific answers (e.g. what wall color facilitates worker alertness and productivity?). Furthermore, much of the current theoretical work on this subject either generalizes too far (e.g. that red signals dominance thus leading to higher performance levels in sports) or is too specific (e.g. that black increases perceived severity of medical conditions).
Science behind this field is growing steadily, as theoretical frameworks based on evolutionary psychology, emotion science, retinal physiology, and person perception are beginning to emerge. Yet these theories still need further development before fully explaining or predicting how colors affect mood and behavior in real contexts.
Colors and Health
Color has long been used to evoke specific feelings and emotions, as well as as medicine. Our modern understanding of color began with Isaac Newton who first used a prism to divide white light into its component colors; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe then published The Theory of Colors linking each hue with specific emotions; this groundbreaking work paved the way for modern color psychology as well as helping establish chromotherapy therapy as a form of treatment.
Color has long been an integral component of marketing and advertising, from logo design to advertising campaigns. Although most psychologists tend to discount claims about its healing powers, colors have an effect on moods and behaviors in subtle ways; studies have demonstrated how blue light may reduce melatonin production and disrupt sleep cycles; exact reasons may still remain elusive but personal associations and preferences could play an influential role.
Colors and Safety
Color psychology is the study of how colors influence an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. While certain colors, such as red, are commonly associated with aggression and fear-inducing emotions such as aggression or fearfulness, personal preference and individual experiences can have a great effect on how someone reacts to particular colors.
Assuming you grew up with a blue teddy bear, the color may become associated with feelings of comfort and love; similarly, yellow can promote optimism and hopefulness.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all psychological effects of colors are universal; their influence varies based on age and culture. When using color for branding or business purposes, conducting your own research is vital if you wish to find colors which resonate most effectively with your audience.
Colors and Relationships
Color can have an immense influence on our emotions, purchases and actions. It may lead people to purchase cars with particular hues or paint their rooms in certain shades to evoke particular emotions.
Warm colors like red and orange elicit higher-arousal emotions such as anger and love, while cool hues such as blue and green tend to induce calmness and sadness. These effects may be universal across cultures or may simply result from personal associations; for example, your child might favor one particular hue due to his or her favorite stuffed animal being of that hue – this could create lifelong associations between certain hues and certain emotions.
Color psychology draws on both social learning and biological predispositions to produce tangible effects; however, its applications remain fluid as more studies on color’s relationship to psychological functioning are conducted despite methodological hurdles that make drawing definitive empirical conclusions difficult.