From the ancient China and India to our modern days, colors have been used widely to heal, stimuli, alert, calm, and clear our brain and emotions. Even though, the effect that colors have in our psychology is a controversial matter, researchers claim that colors are strongly associated not only with our psychology but they also indicate our personality traits and reactions in different situations of our lives.
Everything is a matter of perspective
There is not a universal color code to show how each person reacts to different colors because, each individual is a unique and very different personality, with very different experiences and preferences and raised in different culture. For example, in Western cultures white color represents of peace, cleanliness, angels, purity and of course weddings! Brides wear white dresses. However, in many Asian countries, such as China and Korea, people wear white in funerals while in India white is the color of widows. Egyptians, on the other side, expressed their mourning by painting tombs yellow because, yellow is the color of gold which has lasting qualities so, it was ideal color to send the deceased in the afterlife. In Thai culture, however, yellow is the lucky color for Monday. In Western society, blue is associated with depression, hence the phrase ”i feel blue lately…”, nevertheless, this hasn’t prevent huge commercial brands from using it. And what about black? No matter how official and well dressed you look into your black suit, if you go to a Chinese wedding dressed in black, chances are that you’ll be perceived as a bad omen! A red suit, in this occassion would be perfect! But, would you wear a red suit to attend a western wedding?! Well, as you can see, the color theory is a bit complex and the connection between colors and specific feelings rather inaccurate. However, this doesn’t prevent scientists from making new researches in global scale and come closer to a more ‘open’ theory as to how peoples’ brain usually react to the sight of basic colors.
Properties Of Colors And Our Psychology
Positive: sophistication, glamour, security, seriousness
Negative: danger, menace, depression, grief, sadness, heavy mood, bad intention, evil, unknown
Black is the complete absorption of visible light. Generally, it is the color most preferred for official occassions because it is a safe choice, but it may cause an avalance of negative emotions if not be used properly. It’s property to absorb all the energy towards whoever wears it and send back a dark reflection is what makes it to be considered as the number one mysterious color. As vision in a dark place is not possible, the darkeness of the black triggers feelings of fear to many people due to the ‘unknown’ that is hide in black. Plus, black in western society is the color we wear in funerals. For many years, there was a myth around black color, according to which if you wore black, you would look thinner. Black doesn’t make people look thinner; It is just a matter of perception. By wearing black, you simply don’t draw other peoples’ attention towards you. This is why black is the color of many security guards.
Positive: hygiene, goodness, cleaness, purity, simplicity, honesty
Negative: coldness, obstacles, sterility, death, unfriendliness, lack of emotion, distance
White is the exact opposite of black, as it is totally achromatic and reflects and scatters all the visible light. In human brain, white is connected with snow, doctors, chefs, and other professions associated with hygiene. Even though, white gives a perception of space and cleaness in a room, if there is not any other color around, it may give the impression of unfriendly and cold place. Many people fear of hospitals just because of this unfriendliness of the place. While black gives the impression of a conservative yet decisive person with intense feelings, total white in someone’s clothes or place shows indecision and emptiness of feelings.
Positive: power, courage, love, strenght, heat, excitement, activity, sexuality, determination
Negative: aggressive, hasty, defiance, sacrifice, danger, speed, vice
This primary color attracts our attention immediatly. Globally, red has been used for traffic lights and warning signs like “STOP”, because it makes the most strong visible contrast. In our brain, red is strongly associated with blood and heart and, this gives us a sensation of heat, intensive activity and raised pulses. It may also stimuli the “fight or flight” brain reaction, making us run away from a potential danger or fight to defend ourselves. It is also the color of fire and using it in a place gives it a warm ambiance. If you have a very important date or you have to attend an important event, wearing something red could help you be more assertive and decisive. That could be, a red jewelry for women and a red tie or scarf for men. Red and black is a perfect combination for official dinners, job interviews or public speech. Be aware, though, of too much red, as you could be seen as an aggressive and hasty decision-maker. It is also associated with speed so, be careful on the road because according to police reports, up to 65% of car crashes involve red cars!
Positive: harmony, confidence, intelligence, logic, intellectual, trust, calm, infinity, imagination
Negative: distance, unemotional, allofness, cold, sadness
This clear primary color comes in different shades like, sky blue, navy blue, pale azure, indigo, and it is perceived as the color of mind. Researches in the EU and US have shown that almost 80% of commercial companies, governmental organizations, air companies and navy use blue as their primary brand color. According to many, blue helps with concentration and in many offices the combination of blue and grey it is said to raises productivity. However, this is not an ideal combination for home-based businesses, where the lighter shades of blue, red, green or yellow or a combination of these can help more with productivity and good energy (especially for social media, e-commerce or blogging businesses). For psychologists, the presence of dark blue could mean a trust worthy and responsible person but it could also show deep emotions and sadness. In our brain, the combination of blue and green is linked to the natural environment, as it represents the sea and forests, both of which indicate the presence of life thus, instinctively we know that we can survive if we inhabit near this environment. On the other hand, since there is not much blue food in nature, apart from blueberries, our brains haven’t linked blue color with food thus, blue makes us lose appetite. It is a NO NO NO color for kitchen, especially if you have children but, for someone who tries to lose weight, it would help them if they eat their food in blue plates!
Positive: positive, happiness, confidence, energy, friendliness, self-esteem, creativity, humor
Negative: anxiety, depression, food disorders, fears, irrationality, uncontrollable emotions, envy
This is another one color that attracts our attention due to its shiny contrast and it is also the color of taxis in many countries globally. If it is used appropriately, it creates joyous feelings and creative inspiration but, too much of it can bring exactly the opposite effects in our psychology. Many people link yellow with paleness and sickness as well as with sour and acid. You should also avoid painting yellow the baby room, as babies cry more in yellow rooms!
Positive: health, nature, balance, harmony, fertility, refreshment, hope, new starts, environmental awareness, peace
Negative: boredom, jealousy, stagnation
All environmental organizations and eco companies use green as their primary brand color. While in our brain red color forces us to stop, green color does the opposite; it gives us the persmission to go forward. It is strongly associated with nature, it brings us images of forests and lakes and, we inherentlly know that wherever there is green there is also life, water and food. In many religious countries, green represents heaven while in big economies, green is equal to money, like in the US. Put a piece of green cloth in your wallet to never run out of money or, even best, find a four-petal clover and keep it for good luck! It works!
Positive: summer time, food, digestive, mind and body balance, warmth, sensuality, abundance, fun, energy, unconventional, taste and aroma
Negative: frustration, immaturity, dark shades of orange shows deprivation
It is the best color to enhance appetite. It has been used from nutritionists to help patients fight anorexia. A combination of orange with red and green, used in the kitchen, is the perfect way for parents to help their children develope a healthy diet. Once the brain link the food to the natural colors of fruit and vegetables, it will be more difficult to indulge in junk food. Real orange also helps with digestion so, if you feel your stomach a bit bloated, eating a small orange could help you deflate it more easily due to flavonoids it contains! As for clothes, wear something orange when you prepare to do something with enthousiasm!
Positive: seriousness, nature, support, reliability, wood
Negative: lack of humor, heavy mood, rustic, unsophisticated, monotonous
Due to its connection with land and woods, brown is considered the color of poor people or rural areas and, psychologically is close to black negative properties. However, if combined properly with shades of red and green, it can give a very friendly and warm ambiance in a room.
Positive: sensitivity, politeness, romantic, charm, love, women, physical tranquility, sweetness, tenderness
Negative: physical and emotional weakness, claustrophobia, lack of will power, lack of self-reliance
Pink is equal to femininity and gentle emotions. It has been used to calm down people with extreme stress disorders and it is indicative of a non-threat environment. The pink ribbon is the most recognizable symbol of breast cancer awareness. Many other women organizations about equal rights also use the pink color. However, too much pink could be an indication of someone relying too much on others and having a fragile emotional world. For someone who wants more romance and flirt in their lives, the combination of pink and white in their bedroom would be ideal!
Negative: poverty, lack of emotions, lack of confidence, depression, indecision, dampness, lack of energy, indifference, boredom, old age
It is not a wise choice for extroverted and young people. Grey is usually picked up from those who are more introverted and not very socialized. It was the color worn by Franciscan and Capucine monks as a symbol of humility. Even though, it derives from the combination of black and white, it doesn’t contrast right with the other colors but, it rather dampens them. For example, a grey-blue or a grey-orange would make blue and orange look faded or confused.
Positive: aristocracy, seduction, magic, mystery, sensational, calming, spiritual, intuition
Negative: suppression, introversion, superiority
Purple comes in different shades with different meaning. In general, this combination of red and blue is highly associated with royalty, mystery and magic. The reason for this connection goes back to ancient times, where emperors and future tellers wore purple clothes to show their inferiority and mental capabilities. Purple was an expensive and difficult to be made color for those times, as people had to follow a long process of collecting thousands of small sea snails, leave them to soak, remove a tiny gland and collect the liquid extracted, then put it in a basin and place it in the sunlight until the color turn to purple! If you feel an attraction towards this color, it may shows that you understand more than you let other people think you understand. Purple is a good choice for bedrooms as it aids sleep. It is also said that it enhances dreaming, intuition and visions!
since colors are so connected with our feelings, what color do you feel today?