Associations with Color: Color Psychology
Posted by ArtFireContent on 04/14/2011 at 14:59:10

In the previous entry we discussed how colors have been interpreted symbolically by different groups, but how does color really affect us? What does "color psychology" mean, and how can we use it in our everyday lives? The answers to these questions aren't simple, but if like me you want to know more about color, read on as we delve into color: psychologically.

Warm Colors

According to this article on the Pantone website, people will actually gamble more and make riskier bets when seated under a red light, which is why Las Vegas is so full of red neon lights. Red has even been shown to stimulate the senses and raise the blood pressure! The anecdote that a red cape enrages bulls is false however, as they are colorblind. So red can impact your mood to make you more of a risk taker and also give you energy. However, it can also make you irritable! Red can stimulate appetite, and is often used in restaurants and fast food chains (think of how many use red/warm colors verses blue/cool colors).


Psychologists have carried out research to determine that deep orange has the most exciting influence on mood, followed by scarlet and yellow-orange. Warm colors like orange and yellow are often associated with comedy and happiness. Warm hues excite, and can even make people feel warmer. Warm colors also increase the apparent size and closeness of an object. One study found that the color of the pills people take can have a placebo effect on how well it works. Warm colored pills worked better as stimulants and cool colored pills working better as depressants (the effects appeared to be culture-dependent based on patient's expectations).

Cool Colors

The effects of cool colors are largely opposite those of warm colors. Where bright colors stimulate, cool colors are calming. Of course, just how calming is up for debate. A couple of years ago blue lights were installed in railway stations in Japan in the hopes that it would help decrease suicide rates. Experts have spoken out on doubting the effectiveness of this tactic, sighting that it is a deeply rooted societal problem. So are cool colors calming? Yes. Will they totally relax you and make you feel different if you are having the most stressful day of your life? Probably not.

Because fast turn-over is key in fast food restaurants, there is rarely much blue decoration, which might make people feel too relaxed. Hospitals used to often be painted light green in order to help patients feel calm and comfortable (some still are, though beige and neutral tones are also used). It is important to keep in mind that hue and intensity are also key when it comes to color. Violet may be a cool color, but a neon violet can be just as jarring as a warm color (or more).


So what does this all mean? Well, in terms of using this info in your every day life, Freshome has some tips for using color psychology in decorating:

• Create the illusion of space with bright colors

• Build appetites in your kitchen with red

• Concentrate in your home office with green

• Inspire optimism with yellow

• Use a familiar color (or color you look good in) in the bathroom

For more on color and color psychology, check out the book Colour, and this article on colors and consumers.


Posted By: Guest on 04/15/2011 at 11:18:16
Interesting idea about red in the kitchen. I'm making some country kitchen themed tiles and was a bit undecided about what colour to use. I thought of red, but then thought that it'd be too bold in a kitchen. But after reading this, it makes sense that red would instill a sense of good hearty eating. I'm going to try it and see how it makes my 'diners' in my kitchen feel. Thanks for this! Definitely food for thought (pun unavoidable).

Posted By: Sugarraindrops on 04/15/2011 at 10:34:49
Great post! =]

Posted By: Guest on 04/14/2011 at 15:33:15
Great info! As an artist, I've always wondered why certain colors change your mood. Thanks! Liz Fletcher

Posted By: Guest on 04/14/2011 at 15:31:47
Great info! As an artist, I've always wondered why certain colors change your mood. Thanks!

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