The Effect of a Colour

29 03 2011

By Carlie Douglas

In my readings for my Thesis, I have come across much information about the affect of viewing Green Space on people’s mental state (stress reduction, faster healing in hospital patients, violence reduction in inner city areas).  I began to wonder if it could have something to do with the affect of colours on the brain when I remembered an article titled ‘What’s in a Color” in the 1993 Disney Yearbook from my childhood (article left).  It is obviously directed at children, but its contents are still valid.

Have you noticed the colours in a McDonalds?  It used to be reds and oranges, but after they were attacked for their unhealthy-ness, they started to crop up with greens and browns.  My high school used to be stark white hallways with true red striping and walls, but after remodelling was painted cream with teal and eggplant to prevent fights and promote academics.  In many developments, red is used for accents because it catches our eye and draws us in, but why?  Would it not be just as eye-catching with another bright colour?

Perhaps it is about our apparent attachment from birth to the colour.  This, I believe is something that is relevant not only in Advertising, Marketing, and Public relations, but also in Interior, Urban, and Architectural Design.  The colors that we prescribe can have vast effects on the occupiers.  For more information, this website gives an overview: Color Psychology




4 responses

29 04 2011

I think colours have a great effect on our psychology and feeling; however these effects are variable according to the semantics of colours in different cultures, e.g. in western cultures the colour white represents peace and happiness. This is the reason for the bride dressing in white. However, in some eastern cultures white is considered the colour of death, and people wear it in mourning.
Also, in my opinion it is related to the person’s own experience, as some colours might be connected with bad or good memories which not necessarily should be the same for someone else.
Furthermore, some colours may have a specific national meaning for people in a specific country which is not the same for others in different countries: e.g. the colouration of the national flag and the meaning related the colours and the flag’s symbolism.
However, there is also scientific evidence that some colours have a direct effect on the viewer’s brain and may have an impact on the person’s mood.

26 05 2011

Colour and its impact on the various aspects of everyday living has been one inspiring theme I have discovered some years ago during my undergraduate course.

Colour Designer Paolo Brescia presented the class with a new understanding of the effects of colour in the fields of photo biology, communications, psychology and as a therapeutic measure. We discovered how these notions had long been individualized by eastern medicine especially in the case of Chakras.

The effects of colour on interpersonal, mediatic and social communication become crucial in terms of the built environment. In this case, colour influences people’s behaviour and orientates social interaction to specific places. Social cohesion and consensus could also be supported through the right use of colours.

For more information about the topic follow the link below:

2 06 2011
Lizzie Bird

Love the Disney yearbook – so 90’s! I remember probably about the same time mood rings being the coolest thing ever. If I remember rightly green was always calm or neutral.

I showed this article to one of my friends who’s doing a research masters basing her thesis on work that found that there are individual differences in the exact measurements each person perceived to be ‘pure green’. Another article which she said was interesting recently is about how peoples colour vision varies depending on the environment they grew up in. It was mainly looking at people in the Arctic Circle, who are much more sensitive to colours in the purple spectrum than those in the green/blue spectrum. So it would be interesting to see if different colours affect mood in these people as well, since they are sensitive to colours in different spectrums and that similar differences could be found in people growing up in a rainforests vs deserts (for example!). She gave me these links to a couple of articles to a couple of studies if anyones interested.

2 06 2011

In my second year of architectural studies I had a module accurately called Colour‘ where we learned about all the attributes of the colours, their effects and different moods. Moreover, we learned to mix any tone of any colour using the basic colours. It used to be a nightmare when I had to mix 20 different types of green from light green to dark green. After the semester it was quite interesting to observe the environment and its colours with additional information. We learned some interesting facts and tricks that designers use when choosing appropriate colours. For example red colour is broadly used in restaurants because it supports digestion and appetite. Red is also used in theatres for the seats. After turning of the lights the seats become dark so they do not distract the viewers. On the other hand red and green combination is not recommended in facilities with young children because it may provoke vomiting.

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