Color is a powerful tool for creating emotions. Whether used for branding or interior design, knowing how colors affect our moods and feelings is an important skill for any designer.
In the past decade, research on color and psychological functioning has increased. Although there is promise, some weaknesses on both theoretical and empirical fronts need to be addressed for progress to continue.
Colors that Inspire Positive Emotions
Color psychology is relatively new, but researchers have found that certain colors stimulate specific emotions and behaviors. Some of these effects are universal (green, for example, is associated with nature and growth), while others are more personal or cultural.
For example, the color red may inspire excitement or aggression, while blues and greens tend to induce relaxation and peace. These effects are even more pronounced when a particular shade is highly saturated. In addition to the color, a particular hue’s meaning may change based on the season or context, as well as personal associations.
For instance, the color purple is often associated with royalty because it was once a very expensive dye that was reserved for royalty and aristocrats. The color yellow, on the other hand, can be a reminder of childhood happiness and nostalgia. It can also encourage feelings of confidence and openness, or cause you to feel threatened and anxious. This is why it’s important to consider all of the elements involved when using color in your home or office.
Colors That Inspire Negative Emotions
The psychological effects of color are so powerful that people have used them to influence behaviors for thousands of years. Ancient cultures often used colors to treat different conditions, evoke emotions, and support their spiritual practices.
Today, many marketing and advertising companies use color psychology to encourage certain emotions and behaviors in their target audience. They may choose to advertise red products in order to stimulate your appetite, or blue to inspire trust and feelings of calmness.
While there is some truth to the fact that some colors can inspire specific emotions, it is important to note that the meaning of any particular color varies from person to person. This is because personal experiences, upbringings, and cultural background largely affect your emotional response to any color. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some universal associations with colors and their meanings. For example, yellow has been associated with happiness and success. Green has been linked to relaxation and wellness.
Colors That Encourage Communication
Many brands have long used color to influence consumer reactions and decisions. Take Coca-Cola’s red, which evokes feelings of excitement and energy or IBM’s classic shade of blue that inspires trust, security, and reliability. Some colors have emotional associations that are universal across cultures. Green is associated with nature and growth, while blue is almost universally viewed as calming.
While these generalizations are important, it’s also worth keeping in mind that color perception is personal and can vary greatly based on an individual’s mood, age, and cultural background. In fact, even identical shades can have vastly different effects on individuals.
So, the next time you’re painting your home or selecting a brand for your business, keep these common color psychology insights in mind. But, don’t forget that if you need a mood boost, other methods like meditating or journaling may be more effective than simply surrounding yourself with calming blues.
Colors That Increase Energy
The power of color can make people more energetic or cause them to feel agitated, depending on the shade and its association with other things. Some of these associations are universal, such as the feeling that green invokes nature and growth or that blue is calming. Others are more specific to a time or place. Red, for instance, can make a person feel assertive and energetic, while yellow can spark creativity or even aggression.
While it is hard to prove the effects of color psychology, studies and experiments are ongoing. For example, a study published in the journal Psychology & Marketing simulated two retail stores. One store had walls of red and the other was painted with blue. The results showed that customers shopping in the red store purchased more products than those in the blue store. However, the same result was not seen in the control group. This suggests that the placebo effect may play a role in the effectiveness of chromotherapy.