The Psychology of Color

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The Psychology of Color

Colors can definitely influence how we feel and act that affects personal, cultural, and situational factors / Photo by Sergejs Rahunoks via 123RF

 

Our world is awash with color. People see thousands of different hues every day, which plays a vital role in the world we live in. Imagine an environment with no colors, only black and white. It will not only be boring for most of us, but many things will also lose their meanings. This is because colors cause reactions, change actions, and can sway thinking. It can raise your blood pressure, soothe your eyes, suppress your appetite, and many more. 

Color is also a powerful form of communication and is being used in everything that we do. It can make us happy, sad, angry, or melancholic. Thus, it shows that color can dramatically affect an individual's feelings, moods, and emotions. As artist Pablo Picasso once said, "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." The preferences people have in colors also affect how they choose or purchase clothes to wear, food to eat, and many more. Most of the time, we select objects based on their colors that evoke certain feelings or moods. 

Overall, colors can definitely influence how we feel and act that affects personal, cultural, and situational factors. But how exactly does color work and why it is believed to impact mood behavior? These questions and many more are answered and explained in Color Psychology. This is based on the emotional and mental effects of colors in many aspects of life. However, people shall remember that there are different meanings, interpretations, and perceptions of colors in various cultures. 

 

Understanding Color Psychology

The discovery and further development of color psychology all came to English scientist Sir Isaac Newton. According to an article by the Very Well Mind, he discovered in 1666 that when pure white light passes through a prism, it will separate into all of the visible colors. He also found out that each color that we see is made up of a single wavelength. At the same time, they cannot be separated any further into other colors.

After that, there has been a different experiment that showed that light could be combined to form other colors. For instance, the orange color is a result of mixed red light and yellow light. There are also some colors that cancel each other when combined, such as green and magenta. However, there's a general lack of research in color psychology. In one study, researchers Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier said, "Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color's influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor."

Nonetheless, color psychology remains a relevant study in many fields, such as art, marketing, design, and many more. Researchers and experts around the world agree that colors indeed affect one's feelings, moods, and behaviors. However, it should be noted that an individual's perception of a particular color is often based on their personal experiences or culture. For instance, many Eastern countries see color white as a symbol of mourning while Western countries see it as a representation of innocence and purity. 

According to an article by Art Therapy, colors are often associated with a person's emotions since it can influence their physical or mental state. For instance, there are some studies showing that people looking at the color red results in an increased heart rate. Additionally, color psychology is also used by many cultures as a cure known as chromotherapy. For instance, ancient cultures in Egypt and China used colors to heal. In chromotherapy, red was used to increase circulation and stimulate the body; yellow was used to purify the body and stimulate the nerves; and blue was used to increase energy levels.

Color is also a powerful form of communication and is being used in everything that we do / Photo by Rostislavsedlacek via 123RF

 

However, many psychologists in this modern era view color therapy with skepticism. According to them, the supposed effects of colors to people are often exaggerated. But some existing studies have found a significant impact on people in surprising ways. For instance, anecdotal evidence has suggested that installing blue-colored streetlights can reduce crime. One study showed that warm-colored placebo pills were more effective than cool-colored placebo pills. Recently, a study discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force.

 

Psychological Properties of Four Primary Colors

Now that we have established the role of colors in our society, let's explore how the primary colors affect one's feelings, moods, and behaviors, according to an article by Color Affects. 

Blue

Blue is regarded as the color of the mind and is essentially soothing. In general, it is seen as a sign of intelligence, trust, communication, serenity, logic, duty, calm, and many more. It can stimulate clear thought and at the same time calm the mind and aid concentration. However, it can also be perceived as unemotional, cold, and unfriendly. 

Red

Generally, red symbolizes many things, such as strength, physical courage, energy, warmth, excitement, stimulation, and many more. It is also regarded as a powerful color for several reasons. For instance, it can grab people's attention first. It can stimulate us and raises our pulse rate. However, it can also be seen as aggressive and demanding. 

Green

On the hand, green is mostly associated with balance, harmony, rest, refreshment, and environmental awareness. It is deemed as the color of balance since it is in the center of the spectrum. However, it can also be perceived as stagnation and boredom.

Yellow

Yellow mainly symbolizes confidence, optimism, emotional strength, and creativity. It is deemed as the strongest color in the psychology aspect. In fact, it can lift our spirits and self-esteem. However, it can be seen as emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

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