The Psychology of Color: How Colors Affect Your Emotions

Did you know that color can change the way you feel? Think about the color of your bedroom walls. How do you feel when you’re in your room? Why did you choose to paint it that way? Do you feel calmer when you see that particular color, or more cheerful? Color psychology describes how different colors incite certain emotional and behavioral responses based on each individual’s past experiences, gender, values, and more.

What’s the Use of It All?

Many professionals, especially interior designers and marketing companies, use the psychological effects of color in their work. A marketer might choose reds and yellows for a business logo because those colors, at least in Western culture, are associated with joy, friendliness, and excitement. An interior designer might choose to paint a bedroom in soft blues and purples because those colors are associated with calm and relaxation. The next time you take on a home improvement project, think about how you want to feel when spending time in that area– tranquil and serene, or energized and excited to start your day.

Common Color Interpretations in Western Culture

  • Red: The most intense and attention-grabbing color, associated with energy, passion, action, and confidence.
  • Orange: A less bold color than red, but is still used to draw the eye. Orange symbolizes creativity, enthusiasm, fun, and success.
  • Yellow: Widely regarded as the happiest color, yellow represents the sun– optimism, joy, positivity, and warmth.
  • Green: Some feel that shades of green are calming, likely because of its association with nature. Green is also paired with health, growth, and generosity.
  • Blue: This is the color most often associated with peace and calm due to its connection to water. Blue is additionally used to represent stability, trust, and safety.
  • Purple: You might recognize purple as the color of royalty. Related meanings include power and nobility as well as wisdom.
  • White: Ever wonder why white is always worn to weddings and baptisms? It’s often used to show innocence, purity, naivete, and cleanliness.
  • Black: This one usually depends on the context. Black is the color associated with darkness and death in Western culture, but it can also symbolize mystery and elegance.
  • Gray: Gray is perhaps the most neutral color, but some regard it as calming along with shades of blue and green. It’s also associated with balance.

Are These Meanings Universal?

Nope! Every human being is incredibly unique. Each factor that makes you who you are affects your perspective and how you perceive the world around you, including colors. This list is far from all-encompassing– even if color psychology were universal, there are always exceptions to the rule. This is especially true between different cultures. For example: in Chinese culture, white is traditionally worn to signify mourning and death. But in the United States, a mourner wearing white to a funeral is the very opposite of what’s expected!

Think about what emotions often rise to the surface when you see a certain color, and consider what led you to feel that way. Is it associated with a certain memory? When you watch T.V. or a movie, which colors are often shown with certain events? Maybe color psychology can explain why your entire house is painted gray and green, or why you own fifteen orange shirts. Or maybe you just know your favorite color and like to stick with it!

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