Color Psychology: The Emotional Effects of Colors

This is the last installment of our color therapy series: Psychological Effects of Color. You can read the previous installments: Color Therapy & Healing, Color Meanings & Symbolism, and download our free Color Meaning & Symbolism Charts. For this last installment, we will be exploring the following topics:


1. What is Color Psychology?
2. Applying Color Psychology to Everday Life
3. Psychological Effects of Cool Colors
4. Psychological Effects of Warm Colors
5. Pyschology of Color for Marketing & Advertising
6. Common Psychological Effects of Colors

What is Color Psychology?

The psychology of color is based on the mental and emotional effects colors have on sighted people in all facets of life. There are some very subjective pieces to color psychology as well as some more accepted and proven elements. Keep in mind, that there will also be variations in interpretation, meaning, and perception between different cultures.

Applying Color Psychology to Everday Life

Did you know your surroundings may be influencing your emotions and state of mind? Do you ever notice that certain places especially irritate you? Or that certain places are especially relaxing and calming? Well, there’s a good chance that the colors in those spaces are playing a part.

In art therapy, color is often associated with a person’s emotions. Color may also influence a person’s mental or physical state. For example, studies have shown that some people looking at the color red resulted in an increased heart rate, which then led to additional adrenaline being pumped into the blood stream. You can learn more about how color therapy works and how light and color might affect us.

There are also commonly noted psychological effects of color as it relates to two main categories: warm and cool. Warm colors – such as red, yellow and orange – can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger. Cool colors – such as green, blue and purple – often spark feelings of calmness as well as sadness.

The concepts of color psychology can also be applied in everyday life. For example, maybe you’re planning on re-painting your walls or redecorating a house or room with a new color scheme. Well, you might want to consider some of these suggestions about colors and how they might affect your emotions and mood:

Psychological Effects of Cool Colors

Need to be creative? Want help getting those brain synapses firing? Try utilizing the color purple. Purple utilizes both red and blue to provide a nice balance between stimulation and serenity that is supposed to encourage creativity. Light purple is said to result in a peaceful surrounding, thus relieving tension. These could be great colors for a home or business office.

Are you looking for a peaceful and calming environment? You might consider using green and/or blue. These cool colors are typically considered restful. There is actually a bit of scientific logic applied to this – because the eye focuses the color green directly on the retina, it is said to be less strainful on your eye muscles.

The color blue is suggested for high-traffic rooms or rooms that you or other people will spend significant amounts of time. Another cool color, blue is typically a calming and serene color, said to decrease respiration and lower blood pressure. The bedroom is a great place to use these colors as they should help you relax.

Psychological Effects of Warm Colors

Want to create an environment of stimulation or whet people’s appetite? You might consider utilizing the colors yellow or orange. These colors are often associated with food and can cause your tummy to growl a little. Have you ever wondered why so many restaurants use these colors? Now you know why even after people watched the movie SuperSize Me, they said they were hungry.

You do want to be careful about using bright colors like orange and especially yellow. They reflect more light and excessively stimulate a person’s eyes which can lead to irritation. You also probably don’t want to paint your dining room or kitchen these colors if you’re a calorie-counter.

Pyschology of Color for Marketing & Advertising

Marketing and advertising are well-known for utilizing color psychology. The fact that some companies have heavily invested in this type of research and many others have followed through in its use shows they have at enough belief in the concepts of color psychology to implement them in their advertising.

Color is consistently used in an attempt to make people hungry, associate a positive or negative tone, encourage trust, feelings of calmness or energy, and countless other ways.

Most marketing and advertising executives will likely agree that there are benefits to understanding and utilizing the psychological effects of colors. Now let’s take a look at some of the more common traits of color psychology, by some common colors.

Common Psychological Effects of Colors

The following are some common psychological effects of colors in the Western Hemisphere. You can also review the following pages for a more comprehensive list of color meanings and symbolism, including some charts we’ve created that you can download or embed on your site.

Keep in mind that certain shades or tones may result in very different meanings. Also, the context around the color, and even surrounding colors, can have an effect. Think of this as more of a beginning guide to color psychology.

Color Psychology: The Color White

  • purity
  • innocence
  • cleanliness
  • sense of space
  • neutrality
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Black

  • authority
  • power
  • strength
  • evil
  • intelligence
  • thinning / slimming
  • death or mourning

Color Psychology: The Color Gray

  • neutral
  • timeless
  • practical

Color Psychology: The Color Red

  • love
  • romance
  • gentle
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • energy
  • excitement
  • intensity
  • life
  • blood

Color Psychology: The Color Orange

  • happy
  • energetic
  • excitement
  • enthusiasm
  • warmth
  • wealth prosperity
  • sophistication
  • change
  • stimulation

Color Psychology: The Color Yellow

  • happiness
  • laughter
  • cheery
  • warmth
  • optimism
  • hunger
  • intensity
  • frustration
  • anger
  • attention-getting

Color Psychology: The Color Green

  • natural
  • cool
  • growth
  • money
  • health
  • envy
  • tranquility
  • harmony
  • calmness
  • fertility

Color Psychology: The Color Blue

  • calmness
  • serenity
  • cold
  • uncaring
  • wisdom
  • loyalty
  • truth
  • focused
  • un-appetizing

Color Psychology: The Color Purple

  • royalty
  • wealth
  • sophistication
  • wisdom
  • exotic
  • spiritual
  • prosperity
  • respect
  • mystery

Color Psychology: The Color Brown

  • reliability
  • stability
  • friendship
  • sadness
  • warmth
  • comfort
  • security
  • natural
  • organic
  • mourning (in some cultures/societies)

Color Psychology: The Color Pink

  • romance
  • love
  • gentle
  • calming
  • agitation

Comments

  1. says

    Am currently studying colour. It is very useful information
    Very interesting and thanks for info.
    One of my clients today became a little sad painting , i am sure it was the color he was working with.

  2. yayayda says

    @deborah

    Your client became a little sad paint? How did your client turn into a painting? This is far more interesting than the study of color…

  3. Kevin says

    Interesting… The color psychology really matches my friend’s and my actions and feeling. Very inspiring…
    GREAT WORK!
    :D

  4. says

    “Alexandru Darida Master of color video
    Darida’s art is organic ,distinguished,forward-looking style”
    Sarah Seamark Editor in Chief -Art World News

  5. says

    Hallo, leuke website. Fijn deze site gevonden te hebben. Doe zo verder zou ik zeggen.

    Krijg je veel bezoekers naar jou blog ?
    Wij hebben zelf ook een leuke website met een webshop eraan gekoppeld.

    We leveren personaliseerbare promotietools & decoratieve elementen aan kapsalons, wellness centers en andere beauty
    zaken.

  6. Natasha98 says

    Hey,
    I am currently writing my speech for school on colour physchology – there is sooo much cool and interesting information that i don’t know what 2 do..
    LOL
    Thanks for the awesome info!!!

  7. says

    Sarah Seamark wrote few articols about Alexandru
    Darida -Master of color, one of them is in Art world News May 2008
    Sarah Seamark Editor in Chief Art World News

  8. gwen says

    thank you very much on the info bout the psychological and effects of colors,,,more power and God bless…

  9. says

    Colour speaks to us all.It was meant to, by the greatest Power(s)in creation.How we channel,instruct, and communicate what we learn is suspect but the good news is I’m developing a communication model using colour, sound,and signing to change the fundamental way we understand ourselves and our perceptions of the world around us. We are so much more than what we have been taught& trained to be! I loved your site-info!
    Sincerely, ~T.

  10. richard says

    i in love with the great work done here because am currently writing my final year project on colour pschology and it helping me a lot thanks :)

  11. kistert says

    thanks for this color physiologic definition and explanation please up load more information about color thanks .

  12. says

    In the last week, I have drawn two tumultous storms with big ships in them. Both black and white. Yesterday I drew a beautiful house in color, all neat and tidy and in order. Color isn’t the only part of the psychology. My house drawing actually showed me where my life still needs work, where I was calm and happy, and what might still be problematic. I like this website, but could use more. Is there a phsychology of art subject matter? Or is that just a given in this field. I’m not an artist, I just like to doodle. I’m a musician by trade, which doesn’t seem to be as “forth-telling” as art.

  13. tom says

    there’s more than meets the eye , reactions are split second as are some moods , mktg uses this info so we are wise to review all the above, and make the world or home a more livable place

  14. Kshitija Chavan says

    I am working on a (sort of) difficult project about colors and emotions and this site has been a great help in understanding things.Hats off to the maker , IT IS GREAT.

  15. KICHU says

    first of all i wish to thank u coz today i can feel secured ,,coz i collected every look n corner of my project…. Every thing is possible wen v r together

    COLOUR is a feeling ,may be its a gift of god to make his creatures satisfy his/her feeling by just seeing some thing special,,,, and interpret differently towards a same thing according to its wish

    here i again thank u and let god shower blessing on u

  16. Cornelia MacErlean says

    I think use of color can be very revealing as to the inner workings of the individual’s psychology whether the individual had intended that particular outcome or not. There are always two sides to every story and philosophy and sometimes many more. We don’t know it all or even some of it but why be afraid to explore the concepts?

  17. says

    Although we come from a technology background, “UX” (user experience) is everything these days when it comes to customer engagement. If the colors of the website are off, or do not speak to the consumer, the visitor will most likely bounce from the website they are reviewing.

    The psychological aspect to this happens in a split second. It is amazing the intuition that the brain has within a split second of seeing something, whether or not it agrees with the persons decision making skill or not.

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