Fascinating Facts About Colour Psychology
On 21st March we celebrate The International Day of Colour together with new beginnings and Spring Equinox.
Colours are some of the very first things we learn — at least, we learn to name and identify them. But did you know that colours, in addition to making things look nice, can also make us hungry or dizzy? Or make us more likely to be hired for a job? As a Colour Psychologist and Colour Therapist specialising in the multi-faceted, vibrational energy system of Colour Mirrors, I have long been fascinated by the effect of colour on the human psyche, and though hundreds of studies have already been done on the topic, scientists are still asking questions about just how much humans are influenced by colour. Below, I’ve listed 7 of the most fascinating facts about the psychology of colour.
•Different colours evoke different emotions.
•Colours can even play tricks on your mind.
•You’re more likely to forget something when it’s in black and white.
•There’s a reason you never see yellow in an airplane.
•Want to appear powerful? Wear black
•Men and women see red differently.
•62-90% of a first impression is due to colours.
•Blue is the world’s favourite colour.
Different colours evoke different emotions.
Think about when you see the big red letters on a “Clearance” sign, or McDonald’s unmistakable red M. How about the classic red script of Coca-Cola? Are you beginning to feel thirsty or in need of an excellent deal? If so, you aren’t the only one. Many companies — including Colgate, Nintendo, Virgin, and KFC, to name but a few — use red to entice customers because red has been scientifically proven to create a feeling of urgency. It’s an emotional colour.
Similarly, the colour blue evokes feelings of tranquility and trust. That’s why so many financial companies (Visa, PayPal), technology companies (IBM, Facebook, Twitter), car companies (Ford), and healthcare companies (Oral-B) use blue in their logos and advertising. Other colours that are often used for their ability to evoke certain emotions include green (nature and growth, think Whole Foods or Animal Planet), orange (confidence and enthusiasm, think Harley Davidson or Hooters), black (power and elegance as used by Jaguar, Chanel, and Mont Blanc), white (perfection, think Apple or Ralph Lauren), purple (wealth and royalty, like Crown Royal or Cadbury), and yellow (intellect and energy, think National Geographic or DHL).
Colours can even play tricks on your mind.
There have been plenty of studies — some of them date back to the 1930s, when neurologist Kurt Goldstein began experimenting with things like colour and appearance. For example, Goldstein found that people assume red objects are automatically heavier, while those that are green are automatically lighter.
In a more recent case, a coffee shop with light blue walls was so tired of hearing their customers complain about the cold that they painted the walls orange. The temperature stayed exactly the same, but the complaining stopped entirely. A study done by a casino found that when the table tops are red, as opposed to blue, people are more inclined to gamble longer. Meanwhile, the city of Glasgow in Scotland heard about a study that suggested the colour blue evokes trust. When the city changed all of its street lights to blue lighting in 2000, they found that their crime rate decreased.
You’re more likely to forget something when it’s in black and white.
Psychologists have found a number of connections between colour and memory. Equally, educators and teachers (including myself) agree on the impact that colour can have on the assimilation of information and increased levels of concentration. As it turns out, people have more trouble remembering facts presented in black and white than they do facts presented in colour. For example, lecture notes written in coloured pen are more helpful than notes written in black ink, while a scene from a black-and-white film is harder to remember than a scene from a film in colour. The reason for this seems to be that colour — of which black and white technically are not included — has a stronger effect on the senses necessary to form a memory.
This was my reasoning behind using the therapeutic elements of colour and professional photography by Jo Katy Welch in the design of my Award-winning book THE BOOK OF SOULFUL MUSINGS: Inspiring Conversations to live LIFE with Love Intention Flow Ease (Golden Muse Publishing, 2018).
Want to appear powerful? Wear black
The colour black doesn’t just evoke feelings of power when it comes to logos. Various studies have suggested the same psychology applies to humans, as well. For example, researchers looked at more than 52,000 professional hockey games and found that teams were penalised for aggression by the referees far more frequently when they were wearing black jerseys. No wonder lawyers almost always wear black, judges wear black robes, and Coco Chanel invented the “little black dress” for powerful women.
Men and women see red differently.
Researchers at Arizona State University made the groundbreaking discovery that the ability to see red in all its glory often comes down to gender. There’s actually a gene that allows people to see and interpret red and the related cardinal, maroon, crimson, etc., and that gene is linked to the x-chromosome. Because women have two x chromosomes by nature, they’re armed with a better ability to see the entire red spectrum, whereas males, with their single x chromosome, aren’t necessarily equipped to notice much difference between red and, say, cardinal.
62-90% of a first impression is due to colours.
When people meet for the first time, the vast majority of their first impressions are made up of colour recognition. Studies suggest that those who consistently wear neutral colours or black make fewer positive first impressions, but those who wear brighter colours are more likely to form friendly bonds. More specifically, wearing hints of red (for women) or blue (for men) on a first date could lead to stronger feelings and a definite second date, while those who wear black for a job interview are more likely to be hired.
Blue is the world’s favourite colour.
Despite the many differences of cultures and people around the world, there is at least one thing we all have in common: the colour blue. Studies done around the world reveal that a whopping 40% of people consider blue to be their favourite colour. Second place goes to purple, though that received only 14%, and last place goes to black.
If you feel drawn to explore more of the psychology of colour for your own personal understanding and emotional wellbeing or as an additional holistic therapy tool to what you already offer in your business as a therapist, NLP practitioner, mentor or coach, I’d love to connect with you and have you attending one of my online one day courses or my in-person certified colour psychology training courses.
Introductory private colour coaching sessions are also available either at my sanctuary of colour in Cheshire, England, or online where I connect with my clients from various countries in the world.
To your amazing Colours!