As I love bright colours I use them as often as dare in my posts. However the posts that have the bright colours don’t do as well as the soft
pastel shades. This led me to go in search of information on the psychology of colour and what influence it has on the psyche if any. Was it the colour itself or the cultural background, personal association, or beliefs about that colour that had an influence on behaviour?
I found that there is very little scientific evidence that colour makes a difference or has an effect on a person’s behaviour yet it is used widely in branding, sales and marketing. In several ancient cultures colours were used in therapy and are still used in holistic or alternative therapies today.
While perceptions of colour are subjective, there are some colour effects that have universal meaning. Colours in the red spectrum are known as warm colours and include red, orange and yellow. These warmer colours can evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colours on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colours and include blue, purple and green. These colours are often described as calming, but are also associated with feelings of sadness or indifference.
So here is a list of colours and their believed associated effect on human behaviour.
Red– Physical represents energy
Positive– Energy, strength, warmth, fight or flight, excitement action, energy and speed, attention-getting, assertive and confident, energizing, stimulating, exciting, powerful, passionate, stimulating and driven, courageous and strong, spontaneous and determined.
Negative-Anger, aggression, defiance aggressive and domineering, over-bearing, tiring, angry and quick-tempered, ruthless, fearful and intolerant, rebellious and obstinate, resentful, violent and brutal.
It is has the longest wavelength in the colour spectrum. Red grabs the attention it is an out there colour hence red for stop. It is also a lively friendly colour it is physical and increases the pulse it also stimulates the digestion. Used in the kitchen it can stimulate the appetite. Not the best colour to use if you are trying to lose weight. It can make time appear to go faster but it can also be perceived as being demanding and aggressive.
Positive– Intelligence, trust, serenity, cool, calm, communication, reflection, soothing, loyalty, trust and integrity, tactful, reliability and responsibility, conservatism and perseverance, caring and concern, idealistic and orderly, authority, devotion and contemplation, peaceful and calm.
Negative– unfriendly, cold, aloof, lacking emotion, being rigid, deceitful and spiteful, depressed and sad, too passive, self-righteous, superstitious and emotionally unstable, too conservative and old-fashioned, predictable and weak, unforgiving, aloof and frigid. It can also indicate manipulation, unfaithfulness and being untrustworthy.
Blue is the colour of the mind it affects as mentally rather than physically as red does. It has a calming effect and is used in hospitals for its calming effect. It is also thought to aid concentration and is the colour of communication. Research has shown it is the world’s most favourite colour with both men and women. It is also perceived as being cold, and unemotional and unfriendly.
Positive– rest, relaxing nature, reassurance, environmental awareness, peace, balance, harmony, universal love, growth and vitality, renewal and restoration, self-reliance, reliability and dependability, being tactful, emotionally balanced and calm, nature lover and family oriented, practical and down to earth, sympathetic, compassionate and nurturing, generous, kind and loyal with a high moral sense, adaptable, encourages ‘social joining’ of clubs and other groups, a need to belong.
Negative– Envy, jealousy, boredom, complacency being possessive and materialistic, indifferent and over-cautious, envious, selfish, greedy and miserly, devious with money, inconsiderate, inexperienced, a hypochondriac and a do-gooder.
Green is in the middle of the spectrum therefore represents balance. When everything is green it is seen as plentiful and reassuring on a primitive level. It is a very restful colour and very easy on the eye. On the negative side it can be seen as boring and stagnate.
Positive– Optimistic, self-confidence, self-esteem, friendliness, creativity, emotional strength, optimism, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, fun, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, challenging, academic and analytical, wisdom and logic.
Negative– Depressive, anxious, fragile, emotional, fearful irrational, being critical and judgmental, being overly analytical, being impatient and impulsive, being egotistical, pessimistic, an inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful, non-emotional and lacking compassion.
Yellow is seen as a stimulant. It can lift the mood and spirits. It is the colour of confidence and self-esteem. On the negative side depending on the tone it can cause the mood to plummet giving rise to fear and anxiety.
Positive– spiritual awareness, truth, luxury, quality, authenticity, wealth, vision, unusual and individual, creative and inventive, psychic and intuitive, humanitarian, selfless and unlimited, mystery, fantasy and the future.
Negative– Suppression, inferiority, introversion, immaturity, being impractical, cynical and aloof, pompous and arrogant, fraudulent and corrupt, delusions of grandeur and the social climber.
This has the shortest wavelength of all the colours. It is the colour of higher awareness of spirituality. It encourages deep meditation and inward reflection. It also represents the finest quality, royalty. It is associated with time and space and cosmic energy.
On the other hand if the tone isn’t right or there is too much purple it can be seen as cheap and nasty.
Positive– Warmth, fun, food, sensuality, abundance, passion, physical comfort, free spirit, ideas sociable, optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, self-confident, independent, flamboyant, adventurous, the risk-taker, creative flair, warm-hearted, agreeable and informal.
Negative-Deprivation, immaturity, frustration superficial and insincere, dependent, over-bearing, self-indulgent, the exhibitionist, pessimistic, inexpensive, unsociable, and overly proud.
Orange is the combination of red and yellow so it is stimulates the physical and the emotional. It evokes primal emotions of warmth, food, shelter, fun, adventure and sensuality. Orange aids in the assimilation of new ideas and frees the spirit of its limitations, giving us the freedom to be ourselves. At the same time it encourages self-respect and respect of others. On the negative side it does the opposite. Too much orange suggests a lack of intellectual values. It is associated with forward and outward or lateral thinking.
Pink-Unconditional love, Nurturing
Positive-Physical tranquility, nurture, femininity, sexuality unconditional and romantic love, compassion and understanding, romance, warmth, hope, calming, sweetness, naivety, feminine and intuitive energy.
Negative– Inhibition, physical weakness, emotional neediness, over-emotional and over-cautious, unrealistic expectations, being naive, immature and girlish, lack of will power and lack of self-worth.
Being a tint of red it affects us physically but is soothing rather than stimulating. It represents femininity and is nurturing and soothing. Too much can be physically draining.
Positive– Quiet, stable, sense of calm, composure reliable, conservative, dignified, neutral, impartial, professional, mature, intelligent, classic, solid, stable, calming, subdued, reserved, elegant, formal and dependable.
Negative– Lack of confidence, boring, depressing, lack of energy non-emotional, indifferent, boring, sad, depressed, lifeless, lonely, isolated.
“From a psychological perspective, grey is the colour of compromise – being neither black nor white, it is the transition between two non-colours. The closer grey gets to black, the more dramatic and mysterious it becomes. The closer it gets to silver or white, the more illuminating and lively it becomes.
Being both motionless and emotionless, grey is solid and stable, creating a sense of calm and composure, relief from a chaotic world.
The colour grey is subdued, quiet and reserved. It does not stimulate, energize, rejuvenate or excite.”
It can also represent a lack of confidence and fear of exposure.
Brown-Security/protection and material wealth
Positive– down-to-earth, wholesome, practical, approachable, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, comforting, reliable, protective, strength, quietly confident, sensual, sensitive, warm, reassured, honest, sincere, quality.
Negative– dull, boring, frugal, materialistic, lack of humour, lack of sophistication, predictable, cheap and nasty, stingy
Brown is associated with the earth and the natural world. It is solid and reliable which translates into supportive down to earth qualities. It encourages order, stability, comforting without being overwhelming.
Brown is a predominant colour on the planet, along with green. Brown is comforting and stabilizing, while green is balancing and rejuvenating, just what we all need to help us deal with the stresses of modern life.1
Positive– Sophisticated, substance, efficiency, glamour, security protection and comfort, strong, contained, formal, seductive, mysterious, endings & beginnings, comfort, strong, contained, formal, seductive, mysterious, endings & beginnings.
Negative-menacing, heavy, oppressive, cold, dark aloof, depressing and pessimistic, secretive and withholding, conservative and serious, power & control, sadness and negativity.
Black totally absorbs colour. It is the absence of light. It creates a barrier between us and the outside world giving a sense of safety and security. It hides vulnerabilities, insecurities and lack of self-confidence. Black is used to hide or keep secret. It is worn to hide extra weight, or to hide insecurities and lack of confidence. The black suit springs to mind.
It is also intimidating, unfriendly and over-powering due to the power it exudes.
It can also be seen as sexy, elegance, and sophisticated.
Positive– innocence, purity, cleanliness, equality, complete and whole, simplicity, immaculate and neat, self-sufficient, pristine and open, new beginnings.
Negative– sterile, clinical, stark, fastidious, empty, isolated, cautious, plain, distant, unimaginative, critical and boring.
White reflects! It is the colour of new beginnings of purity and innocence. It also represents cleanliness, purity and sterility. That is why brides wore white and Doctors coats are also white. Although it is used to give the impression of hygiene, cleanliness it can also give the impression of being cold, detached, and distant.
There are variations of these colours, silver, gold, tan, indigo, turquoise, lime, etc. these are the ones we think of and associate with more often.
In the next blog I will be looking at what your favourite colour says about your personality.
Creator of :Changing Your Thoughts, Living Deliberately and Ageless Living.
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