The Effect of Colors on the Human Psyche

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In The Beginning, There Was Light

If you pick up any creation story of any culture you will find one immediate similarity, In the beginning, there was Darkness, and from the Darkness came the Light, and from the Light came everything else…In 1666 when Isaac Newton learned that white light, when passed through a prism shows us the 7 colors which make up what we thought of as white, or pure, lights. Like the myths of old, we have discovered how to blend these colors to form variations of our own. Thus everything else has sprung from “the Light.” What is funny about color and light is that they aren’t a “real” concept in its own right, it rather a misnomer of what we see as opposed to a description of a thing as it is. Colour is basically varying frequencies of light, when we see, say, a firetruck which “is” red, we call it red. It is not red, in fact, it is the opposite of red as it has absorbed all the other colors of the spectrum and reflect the red wavelength into our eyes. So in effect, it is not the “color” by itself which has an effect, it is simply the wavelength which reflected back at us. If we were to discern what the thing is, would it not be more prudent to describe a thing by the colors it retains rather than the color it reflects? Just some food for thought.

 

Credits: udaix | Shutterstock.com

 

 

Human Beings and Color Psychology

 

Our species is one which is fascinated with color, as many mammals do not see color as richly as human beings. Even today colors are one of the first things children learn about. And the timeless question we experience in our earliest social interactions “What is your favorite color?” is still the surest way to make friends (at the very least) at that age…Here is where it gets interesting, by this, we believe that we can determine something about the other person on an almost instinctive level. However, with the advent of Color Psychology, we are starting to see a startling number of links between someone’s professed favorite color and what it says about them. Moreover, it also shows the effect of each color on one’s psyche, though factors like age, sex, and culture/personal experience cause interpretations to vary from person to person. Color Psychology is a popular yet relatively obscure branch of psychology. But one which continues to find effects of color on our psyche. Researchers on Color and Psychological function Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier have affirmed: “Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color’s influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor.” Practical concerns relating mostly to advertising and marketing, rather than any real benefit to the individuality. Though color therapy is believed to have been used by the Ancient Egyptians and Chinese, even today with ideas like art therapy being so effective, this practice is growing. Bear in mind, however, a uniformity in the meaning of colors does not exist in today’s cross-cultural globalized world.

 

Credits: Kris Leov | Shutterstock.com

Here is a brief list of colors and what they represent to most people:

Red:

Activity, Aggression, Passion, Power, Determination, Desire (in males), Love

Effect: Speeds up blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, metabolism, attracts attention.

Signifies danger (or a need to remain alert), can cause violent aggression if overused.

Orange:

Joy, Sunshine, Enthusiasm, Encouragement, Fascination, Happiness, Creativity, Attraction, Success.

Effect: Inspires creativity, activity, general awakening.


Yellow:

Cheerfulness, Intellectual energy, Happiness, Friendliness, Fear.

Effect: Warming effect, inspires optimism, stimulates energy (mental and physical)

Bright yellow attracts attention (Fast food, Taxis, School buses). But can promote anxiety if there is too much of it.

Blue:

Calm, Intelligence, Communication, Logic Duty, Aloofness Apathy, Depression, Coldness.

Effect: A calming, sobering effect. Can evoke Apathy and Depression in large doses.

Green:

Nature, Growth, Fertility, Harmony, Health, Renewal, Depth, Constance, Loyalty, Confidence, Sincerity, Loyalty, Safety.

Effect: Slows metabolism, heart rate, breathing rate. Has a healing/ soothing effect.

Purple:

Royalty/Nobility, Power, Luxury, Dignity, Value, Ambition, Wealth, Independence, Mystery.

Effect: Projection of Status, Value, Desirability.

White:

Birth, Cleanliness, Purity, Goodness, Light, Perfection, Completion, Unity.

Effect: Clean, open-ended, optimistic, awakening influence.

Black:

Death, Power, Mystery, Evil, Unknown, Prestige, Gracefulness, Authority, Grief.

Effect: Elegance, grace, sober authority.

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