Colors and emotions, how colors make you feel? - 3 minutes read
Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long believed that color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions," the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked.
Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions. Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain. So how exactly does color work? How is color believed to impact mood and behavior?
What Is Color Psychology?
In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colors. Newton also found that each color is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colors.
Further experiments demonstrated that light could be combined to form other colors. For example, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange color. Some colors, such as green and magenta, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light.
If you have ever painted, then you have probably noticed how certain colors can be mixed to create other colors.
"Given the prevalence of color, one would expect color psychology to be a well-developed area," researchers Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier have noted. "Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color's influence on psychological functioning,1 and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor."
Despite the general lack of research in this area, the concept of color psychology has become a hot topic in marketing, art, design, and other areas. Much of the evidence in this emerging area is anecdotal at best, but researchers and experts have made a few important discoveries and observations about the psychology of color and the effect it has on moods, feelings, and behaviors.
Your feelings about color are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture.
For example, while the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.
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.
Color Psychology as Therapy
Several ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Chinese, practiced chromotherapy, or the use of colors to heal. Chromotherapy is sometimes referred to as light therapy or colorology.
Colorology is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.2 In this treatment:
- Red is used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
- Yellow is thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
- Orange is used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
- Blue is believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
- Indigo shades are thought to alleviate skin problems.