The Psychological Impact of Color
The following beliefs are generalizations. They may differ from culture to culture, and
from person to person. Yet, based on color studies, they represent the feelings most
people associate with different hues. I have added in parenthesis, the rooms in which
these colors are often applied.
- Orange promotes
feelings of excitement. It makes one feel vibrant, improves appetite, and enhances social
interaction. (Kitchen, dining room.)
- Green makes one feel cool, fresh and elegant. It also represents nature, and therefore,
promotes balance, harmony, peace, hope and stability.
- Mauve and pink are colors that symbolize romance. (bedrooms)
- Pinks, peaches, blues and greens can make a bedroom feel restful.
- Sitting next to a lamp with a blue light bulb, for a half-hour before bed, may help
- Red can raise ones blood pressure.
- Blue, if it is warmed from its pure form, can reduce stress and relieve tension.
- Purple can comfort and relieve strain. (any room)
- Yellow makes one feel cheerful. (in light shades, any room)
- Black, white and gray are thought of as stark, restful or clean. (kitchens, bathrooms)
- Environments in which pure hues of contrasting colors (those opposite each other on the
color wheel) are thought to be more stimulating, for example purple with yellow, orange
with blue, etc. The liveliness of this affect, which might be suitable for a childs
room or playroom, can be softened by using hues that are not as dense or saturated, such
as lavender and yellow.
- Colors, used together, that are in the same family (i.e.: monochromatic, light blue and
dark blue) or next to each other on the color wheel (i.e.: green and yellow), feel calm
- All colors can have a positive or negative affect. The affect depends on the individual,
the extend of color use, and the purity or saturation of the hue. Here are some terms that
describe pluses and minuses. Red, used in a large space can be (positive) welcoming,
nurturing, energizing, invigorating, or it can feel (negative) aggressiveness. Red in a
small space, can be (positive) cozy, intimate, or (negative) claustrophobic.
- Color selection should take room orientation into consideration. For example, a blue
wall in a room with a southern exposure might feel relaxing, whereas, the same color in a
room with northern exposure may feel depressing.
- Color selection should be based on the predominant task that takes place in the room.
- Every color can have a warm or color tone to it. Generally, warm hues should be used in
spaces where there is activity, and cool colors should be reserved for restful spaces.
- Wearing, and surrounding yourself, with your favorite colors, lifts your spirits.
- Hospitals and spas use light, cool colors, because they have a calming affect. These
facilities enliven neutral backgrounds by adding splashes of color.
- Because of its wavelength and density, yellow is thought to help arthritis suffers, and
green, cancer patients.
Permission is granted to print or reproduce ezine material if the following is
Author: Catherine Foust McGivern, NCIDQ Certified, Principal