How Colors Affect Your Mood

By:    Published: August 16, 2012

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In our own lives, we choose colors for our clothes, the paint on our walls and other ways of expressing ourselves. However, colors can also be used to affect a person’s mood. Studies have found that certain colors affect your mood in specific ways. This article explores the idea of color psychology and what various colors represent– with or without us realizing it.

What Is Color Psychology?

There is actually an entire field of study devoted to examining how colors affect mood and behavior. This study is called color psychology. Despite what the name suggests, color psychology is sometimes disputed by professionals involved in mainstream psychology. Not all psychologists find the research supporting this field to be sufficient, but many still concede that certain colors do appear to have a common effect on various individuals.

Effects Of Specific Colors

Certain colors are tied to certain thoughts, feelings and behaviors. One of the more basic ideas about colors is splitting them into two basic groups: warm and cool. These groups are defined by the following characteristics:

  • Warm colors: Red, orange and yellow hues are considered to be warm colors. These are thought of as more active, exciting and energetic colors.
  • Cool colors: Blue, green and purple hues are considered to be cool colors. These are thought of as relaxing, soothing and passive colors.

Here are some examples of how color psychology affects us on a daily basis through specific colors:

  • Red: As the warmest of the “warm colors,” red has been associated with increasing stimulation and tension in the body. This color has been utilized to increase circulation. Red is often associated with love, passion, heat and masculinity.
  • Orange: Orange is thought to be a particularly energizing and happy color. It is often associated with enthusiasm, positivity, optimism and playfulness.
  • Yellow: Along with orange, yellow is also associated with happy feelings. In addition, it’s thought to stimulate the nerves and increase creativity. Yellow is often associated with enlightenment, wisdom and sunshine.
  • Green: Green is a calming, tranquil color. This color is very closely associated with nature and money. It is also thought to bring good luck and feelings of generosity.
  • Blue: As the coolest of the “cool colors,” blue is often thought of as a relaxing and calming color. It is thought to relieve tension, and some even think it can help soothe illnesses or pain. Blue is often associated with peace, tranquility, cool temperatures, cleanliness and technology.
  • Purple: Purple is thought to be a spiritual and sensual color. It has been linked to royalty in past eras. In addition, it is associated with mystery, ceremony and creativity.
  • Brown: Brown is considered to be an organic, natural color. It is associated with antiquity, tradition, stability and, of course, nature.
  • Black: Black is the most commanding and authoritative color. It is most often associated with strength, power, elegance, formality and sophistication.
  • White: White is most often associated with purity. It is considered to be a blank slate and is often used as a backdrop to highlight other colors. White is often associated with peace, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, sterility and reverence.

Use Of Color To Affect Mood

We are often affected by colors in many ways without even realizing it. For instance, many marketers use color in designing their packaging in order to make their products more appealing to consumers. This can be seen most clearly on grocery store shelves. Next time you go shopping, notice how organic foods tend to have green and/or brown on their packaging. Meanwhile, notice how energy bars often have colors like red, orange and yellow (the “active” colors”) on their packaging.

[Related: Organic Vs. Inorganic Foods: Which One Is Better?]

A similar process is sometimes used to design store spaces, logos and marketing materials. One store may choose a distinctive color which can be applied to their store’s interior, their products and their advertisements, which makes their brand more recognizable. Meanwhile, a gym may paint the walls orange to make you feel energized and happy, while a spa may have blue walls to induce a feeling of calm and tranquility.

Color therapy is another important example of the use of color psychology. This is an ancient practice sometimes still used today. With color therapy, specific hues are used for their affects on the human body (such as red being used to increase circulation). The true effects of this are widely disputed but some people are firmly devoted to this alternative treatment.

Other studies are being conducted to see if specific colors have certain behavioral effects. According to MSNBC, one study found that eating off red plates may help curb your appetite. More studies are needed to see how effective this technique really is, but it pushes the idea of color psychology to see how color affects us on a daily basis.

[Related: 10 Tricks To Suppress Your Appetite Naturally]

There is still much to be learned when it comes to color psychology. For example, certain colors have had different meanings in different cultures throughout history, so perhaps our perception of those colors is based more on what we are taught in our own culture rather than on innate perceptions. Regardless, this is a fascinating field of study that is utilized in many real-world applications today.

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