Seeing red? Feeling blue? Colors are often associated with mood.
Pablo Picasso is quoted to have said “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”
But despite paint companies blogging about why a yellow kitchen will transform your day and marketing agencies telling you to steer clear of red when advertising, there hasn’t been a huge amount of research in this space.
In their paper Color and Psychological Functioning, researchers Andrew Elliot of the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester and Markus Maier of University of Munich argue that “color is a ubiquitous perceptual experience, yet little scientific information about the influence of color on affect, cognition, and behaviour is available.”
Different colors have different meanings in different cultures. Despite this, in the West, these simple classifications are so far generally accepted.
“Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
“Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.”
Most effects are anecdotal but some studies have produced interesting results.
This study found that warm-colored placebo pills were reported as being more effective than cool-colored placebo pills.
The previously mentioned Andrew Elliot also discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force.
Another study found that sports teams with mostly black uniforms are more likely to receive penalties but that students were more likely to associate negative qualities with a player wearing a black kit.
Whilst the above is interesting, it looks like for the time being charts like this are completely unscientific:
So we won’t be painting our office yellow anytime soon...