How can colour impact us?

What is your favourite colour? Do you feel better wearing certain colours than others? Is your home décor calming or bright and empowering?


Colour seems to dramatically affect moods, feelings and emotions. It’s a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence moods and influence physiological reactions. Certain colours have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism and eyestrain.

Research suggests that colour has a noticeable part in our lives, which can influence our thinking, inspire our decision-making and impact our mood. Different cultures seem to symbolise colours in different ways, for example, green can mean fertility in the Celtic myths, whereas it’s a sacred colour to Muslims. In Asian countries, white is associated with death and mourning, however in western countries, black is worn to funerals.


Through research, colour seems to signify positive and negative meanings. For example, some people believe that red symbolises passion, motivation and attention, but also anger. It’s used to warn and signal danger. Orange can be uplifting, encouraging and spontaneous. Green signifies health and harmony but the saying “green with envy” indicates an individual being jealous. Blue represents security, loyalty and trust. Moreover, blue can have a calming effect on people.


Studies suggest that colour can influence how people feel and behave, effecting the way it’s used with aspects like marketing, website design, branding, design disciplines, home interior and in educational establishments.


Colour psychology appears to be a high topic in marketing. It’s believed that colour schemes with product images and website designs have a powerful influence on our purchasing decisions. Studies show that people make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with products. Careful colour selection appears to make a business stand out from the crowd, which may influence the consumers’ feelings towards particular products.


Focusing on mental health, Yamanote railway line in Tokyo installed blue lights at the end of their platforms to reduced suicide incidents. As a result, ‘suicides fell by 74% at stations where the blue lights were installed’ because claims suggested that ‘blue light could make people less impulsive and more calm,’ (Westland, 2017).


In education, practitioners are advised to have plain, bland displays rather than anything colourful when teaching autistic children, so not to over stimulate them. Experts believe that certain colours have a calming effect, which may be pleasing to kids with sensory issues. Cool, pastel and earth colours appear to give children a sense of comfort, where bright colours like orange, yellow and red could be too intense for them. Furthermore, those with dyslexia find particular coloured overlays and backgrounds a support to read and write.


Additionally, studies show that colour seems to affect performance. Researchers found that the colour red negatively affected performance on a test. When participants were given a red participant number, they performed 20% worse on tests than their peers. However in sports, participants who wore red, won more games or competitions than those wearing other colours. Scientists believe that red correlates to male dominance and testosterone levels in animals. Anger is associated with reddening of the skin due to increased blood flow.


In conclusion, colour seems to influence us in various ways, in different places and in numerous situations. However, through research, there seems to be differing studies and arguments about colour psychology. The understanding of the psychology behind colour is fascinating and ever-expanding with knowledge.



Reference links:

Britt, R, R. (2005), “Red Outfits Give Athletes Advantage” <https://www.livescience.com/276-red-outfits-give-athletes-advantage.html> accessed on: 20th January 2021

Chapman, C. (n.d.), “Cause and Effect – Exploring Color Psychology” <https://www.toptal.com/designers/ux/color-psychology> accessed on: 20th January 2021

Cherry, K. (2020), “Color Psychology: Does It Affect How You Feel?” <https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824> accessed on: 16th January 2021

Lawrence, C. (2017), “What Colors Are Pleasing to Kids With Sensory Issues?” <https://howtoadult.com/colors-pleasing-kids-sensory-issues-16787.html> accessed on: 16th January 2021

Olesen, J. (2021), “Color Meanings – The Power and Symbolism of Colors” <https://www.color-meanings.com/> accessed on: 16th January 2021

Singh, S. (2006), “Impact of color on marketing,” <https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00251740610673332/full/html> accessed on: 16th January 2021

Westland, S. (2017), “Does colour really affect our mind and body? A professor of colour science explains” <https://theconversation.com/does-colour-really-affect-our-mind-and-body-a-professor-of-colour-science-explains-84382> accessed on: 16th January 2021

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