The Psychology of Color
Colors have different meanings in various
cultures. And even in Western societies, the
meanings of various colors have changed over
the years. Today in the U.S., researchers have
generally found the following to be accurate.
Red is found to be the most
emotionally intense color. It
stimulates a faster heartbeat and
breathing. It is also the color
associated with romance. Red
clothing gets noticed and makes the
wearer appear heavier. Since it is an
extreme color, red clothing might not
help people in negotiations or
confrontations. In decorating, red is
usually used as an accent.
The ancient Romans, used a red flag as a signal for
danger, war or battle. Red was believed to have
Modern bulls are of the same opinion.
Stop signs, stoplights, brake
lights, and fire equipment are
all painted red due to its
connotation with danger.
Wedding Color – Red
marriage, and prosperity
In Russia,the word red means beautiful. Is it any
Wonder that the Soviets had adopted a red flag?
What other associations do we make with the color
The color of the sky and the ocean,
blue is peaceful and tranquil,
causing the body to produce calming
chemicals, so it is often used in
bedrooms. Blue can also be cold
and depressing. Fashion consultants
recommend wearing blue to job
interviews because it symbolizes
loyalty. Studies show that people are
more productive in blue rooms.
Weightlifters are able to handle
heavier weights in blue gyms.
In ancient Rome, public servants wore blue.
Today, police and other public servants wear blue.
In general terms blue symbolizes accessibility
When food dyed blue is served to study subjects,
they lose appetite.
What other associations do we
make with the color blue?
Currently one of the most popular
decorating colors: green, symbolizes
nature. It is the easiest color on the
eye and can improve vision. It is a
calming, refreshing color. People
waiting to appear on stage sit in
"green rooms" to relax. Hospitals and
institutions often use green because
it relaxes patients. People who work
in green environments have fewer
In ancient Greece, green symbolized victory,
implying that all is safe. Today green, of course,
means “go.”When “all systems are green,” it means
everything is in order.
When London's Blackfriar Bridge was painted
green, suicides dropped 34% Color
Affiliation is sometimes in reaction to what one does
not want to be neither red nor blue..
Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
by Jan Van Eyck , 1434
The bride in this Renaissance
masterpiece wears green as a
symbol of her fertility. She is
slouching in imitation of pregnancy,
thus indicating her willingness to
In Celtic myths the Green man was the God of fertility.
Green is a sacred color to Moslems. In the middle
ages the crusaders avoided using any green in their
signs and symbols because of this.
And what about the Irish, and their use of green?
Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention
getter. While it is considered an
optimistic color, yellow rooms provoke
people to lose their tempers and
babies will cry more frequently when
surrounded by yellow.
Overpowering if overused, yellow is
the most difficult color for the eye to
take in. In low intensity it can enhances
concentration, hence its use for legal
pads. It is shown to speed metabolism.
Yellow has good visibility and is often used as
a color of warning. It is also a symbol for
quarantine, an area marked off because of
In the Middle Ages, actors
portraying the dead in a play
• In China, yellow has
and is still the
Imperial color today!
The Baker-Miller Pink - a color that's close to
the bubble gum pink lettering on this page,
also known as “drunk tank pink,”is often used
to calm violent, angry and anxiety ridden
behavior among prisoners by painting the
holding cell. “Even if a person tries to be angry
or aggressive in the presence of pink, he can't.
The heart muscles can’t race fast enough. It’s a
tranquilizing color that saps your energy. Even
the color-blind are tranquilized by pink rooms.”
There is substantial evidence, however, that
these reactions are short term. Once the body
returns to a state of equilibrium, the prisoner
may regress to an even more agitated state.
Pink has also been used on the visiting team’s locker
room in football stadiums to have a tranquilizing effect.
There is, in fact, a rule in the WAC Conference which
states that the both the home and visiting dressing rooms
must be painted the same color.
The pink triangle has become one of the
symbols of the modern gay rights
movement, but it originated in Nazi
concentration camps during World War II.
The color of royalty, purple
connotes luxury, wealth, and
sophistication. It is also feminine
and romantic. However, because
it is rare in nature, purple can
Purple was restricted to use by
nobility, they were and still are an
emblem of authority and rank.
Purple in a child's room is said to
help develop the imagination.
What other associations do we
make with the color purple?
Solid and reliable brown is the
color of earth and is abundant
in nature. Light brown implies
genuineness while dark brown
is similar to wood or leather.
Brown can also be sad and
wistful. Men are more apt to say
brown is one of their favorite
Although not a color, black
symbolizes authority and power.
It is popular in fashion because it
makes people appear
thinner. Black also
Priests wear black to
signify submission to
God. Some fashion
experts say a woman
wearing black implies
submission to men. Black outfits
can also make the wearer seem
aloof or evil.
The ancient Egyptians and Romans
used black for mourning, as do most
Europeans and Americans today.
Black is associated with
sophistication and elegance.
It is stylish and timeless.
A “black tie” event is formal.
And, of course, “black
White reflects light and is considered a
summer color. White is popular in
decorating and in fashion because it is
light, neutral, and goes with everything.
However, white shows dirt and is
therefore more difficult to keep clean
than other colors.
Doctors and nurses
wear white to imply
In our culture brides wear
white to symbolize
innocence and purity.
The ancient Greeks wore
white to bed to ensure
pleasant dreams and insure
A white flag is the universal
symbol for truce
White means mourning in
China and Japan
According to the Feng Shui red denotes fire,
strength and fame and stimulates energy.
Purple symbolizes the wealth color, and
royalty wore it often. Yellow denotes
patience, wisdom and represents the earth.
Green is the color of plants, a color that
inspires hope. Blue can be a calming color
and combined with green, is a color that
symbolizes spring to the Chinese. Black is a
dual color because it can give a feeling of
depression or depth, depending on the
viewer. Orange gives a happy feeling since
it’s a mixture of both red and yellow. Pink is a
strong color for romance and love.
To the Jewish people, the Talis is a religious
Color plays a role in its symbolism.
The Bead Code of the Zulus
The bead code is culturally
regulated, so that one's status
can be readily recognized.
Above are Zulu
• Adorned walls of
tombs and temples
with brilliant colors
of blue, tangerine,
In the Italian Renaissance…
– Colors were vibrant
reds, greens, golds and
In the Rococo period…
• Tastes became
colors became less
In 18th Century England…
• There was great
elegance. Colors were
rich, showing a strong
Chinese influence in
the use of red and
During the Victorian era…
• There was great
for it’s abundance
• Colors were mostly
dull reds, greens,
In the Early 20th Century…
• Colors were
There were sleek
surfaces and strong
contrasts with black,
gray, silver, brown,
beige and white.
In the 1920’s…
• All-white interiors
became popular which
gave way to delicate
pastels with bright
In the 1950’s..
• Light colors were
turned to Mexico
and a shift to
bright colors with
And in the 1990’s…
• Regal gold, blue,
and red were used.
and Victorian was
• Ivy league also
with forest greens
and cranberry reds.
The mid 2000’s
• Neutral colors with occasional
bright accents are popular.
• Often, multi-colored and
textured elements such as
lamps or wall sconces act as
With the 2008 Summer Olympics just
around the corner and a continuing
interest in Asian culture, define this bold
and striking color group. From clean,
clear reds and deep plums to the
sophistication of black and white, this
color group works both as an accent and
as an elegant backdrop for many living
spaces. Polished brass metallics
Color also plays an
important role in
Color is used for filing,
identification and retrieval