color psychology, color cure, color secrets, color analysis, color palette, color season, color theory

What Exactly Is Color Psychology?

Nov 03, 2022

Welcome to The Color Cure! I'm so happy you stopped by because it tells me one crucial thing about you...

You're curious about color!

As you'll quickly learn - having befriended me - I can't stop talking about it.

Whether it's color in film, nature, history, science, behavior, business or even our eyes, I think it's one of the most powerful + communicative tools that exist.

And it's honestly a miracle we have access to color in the first place.

Since this is our introduction to each other, I want to start with the basics.

What exactly is color psychology? And, more importantly, why should it matter to you in the first place?

Color Psychology is defined as the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. -Wikipedia

Seems simple enough. But when I tried to truly understand it, it felt overwhelming because there's so many aspects to it if you truly think about it.

If you Google "color psychology" - there are about 600 results that will take you on a journey from marketing to emotions to color theory to art.

 

 

The Multiple Aspects To Color Psychology

 

When approaching color psychology, most research will point you to simply naming a few words associated with a color. This is when broad-strokes color psychology can become disastrous.

For example, thinking yellow means "joy" in every case, painting your child's room yellow + seeing their hyperactivity go through the roof as it stimulates the nervous system into overdrive in cases of neurodivergence.

Instead, I decided to study color psychology intensely in as many aspects I could find to discover the true bedrock of specific colors. I highly encourage you to do the same!

 

SCIENCE

 

We all heard of color theory in school - usually in kindergarten as we mixed colors like red, yellow and blue to create other colors. This, unfortunately, is where most of our color education ended. Problems begin to arise - especially for businesses - as they print out materials that look nothing like their brand palette. 

This is because we weren't shown the difference between RGB {color in screens} and CMYK {color in print}. Fortunately, design sites like Canva have simplified this processes immensely for us by letting us choose either model upon export.

Understanding basic color models is important! Whether we are choosing paint, looking at websites or printing a brochure. Each has a totally different mixing pattern we should at least be slightly aware of.

The science doesn't end there.

Because color isn't simply mixing paint. It all stems from sunlight.

It's rare to see color psychology linked to the visible light spectrum, but it should be! Let me show you a very basic overview.

The portion of light we can see is called the "visible light spectrum". Essentially - the spectrum or frequency of colors we see during the day.

There are 7: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo + Violet

 When we look around us during the daytime, we see certain colors because they reflect them.

For example, a red apple absorbs all other light frequencies + reflects red...so we see the apple as red.

This is why we see so few blue elements in nature outside of water + sky. Because blue is an important frequency for living things to absorb. {and no, blueberries aren't actually blue. neither are your eyes!}

Science is the first crucial element to consider when studying color psychology. We have to know why things appear the way they do + how we physically respond to light on a chemical level...as that's the basis of color psychology.

 

HISTORY

 

Again, most of color psychology skips this part. Let me prove it to you.

Did you know that yellow was tied to Judas Iscariot + became a color strongly linked to betrayal? People accused of it during the Spanish Inquisition actually came before court in yellow capes.

Still think yellow only means joy?

Most of our colors came into pigment form due to the hard work of the Egyptians {and their slaves} to mine mountains, grind elements + create a pigment for use.

So much of history since then is shaped by the competition between countries to find more economical dyes to replace the ones as expensive as gold, like Tyrian purple. Some of the most famous painters we know went bankrupt because they absolutely had to have a certain type of blue. Certain colors could only be worn by certain classes...even punishable by death.

Understanding the history of color can help you understand color psychology incredibly deeply.

Knowing why there's a primal repulsion to certain shades of green - as the wall color in the 18th century poisoned so many. Or how pink was used to camouflage ships, airplanes + panthers in WW2 leading to so much victory.

How can you know the impact of color on human behavior if you don't know color's past?

 

CULTURE

 

Color means different things to different cultures depending on the time period + location.

You may wear black to a funeral in the United States, but it's only reserved for the widow/widower in other parts of the world.

Have you ever looked at your immediate culture + studied the colors it loves? Or even looked back 2-3 generations?

Why are certain colors revered + other scorned? It becomes a whole other world of exploration.

When working with business owners, this becomes highly relevant. For example, after analyzing one's audience, you can make clear color advertising decisions.

To use red for passion when advertising to the United States or some parts of Europe, but not in China as it's a revered color that is tied more to success + prosperity.

As color psychology studies hues + their effect on human behavior, cultural colors can in no way be discounted as they are a crucial part of a collected groups beliefs + intrinsic ties.

 

FILM

 

It may sound silly, but the film industry has drastically impacted how people react + respond to color.

Films like "The Wizard Of Oz" have shaped entire generations - giving new instinctual reactions to colors like green, red + yellow. With each year of film/television that passes, society's interpretation of color shifts.

China is a great example of this - where a past association of purple with indecency has completely changed to it becoming a prized color! Pantone even named purple the color of the year for 2022.

Start paying attention to the shows your watching. "The Good Place", "Legally Blonde", "Lord Of The Rings", "The Flight Attendant"...so many films work strategically with color psychology.

As the holidays approach, turn on "Jingle Jangle" on Netflix. Notice how you can almost predict the plot in a strategic arrangement of red, yellow + green.

I think we can apply this same theory to social media + websites...if it was widely understood.

Color psychology is a film's playground - moving an audience through the plot emotionally.

 

HEALING

 

I do think that color medicine is an interesting enough field that has been carefully + scientifically studied to bring up. After countless hours of studying the National Institute Of Health's reports + experiments, I couldn't skip it when writing my book, Color Secrets.

Color is linked to healing.

Starting at the dawn of medicine with Avicenna to modern day cancer research, color is a proven effective method to dealing with dis-ease of the body.

From red light infrared saunas to hydrochromotherapy {light + water as combined treatment} to sleeping/waking cycles + even competitive sports - color is positively linked to them all.

Color hugely effects the human body to the point of dramatically changing + even treating symptoms. It's quite revolutionary - and yet has been studied for thousands of years.

So not taking this into account when studying color psychology + it's link to human behavior? Well, let's put it this way.

It's like asking someone to slow down a nose bleed under a red light. It simply isn't going to happen.

 

BEHAVIOR

 

I think this category makes the most sense since "behavior" is in the definition of color psychology.

It has to be important to consider as we should know how people react to color, right?

Firstly, it's very easy to prove - similar to science - as so many behavioral studies have been done with color.

From color in a room to vision tests to environmental reactions, color never causes "no" reaction. Ever.

Our pulse levels out when exercising in a green space, it speeds up when in red.

Blue brings down our heart rate, blood pressure + pupil dilation.

Students at a college campus most favored a yellow room than any other color to socialize + connect.

It's even easy to validate at home. By wearing different colors + observing others responses or changing a wall color, it's a simple but true test to see how positively or negatively we are affected.

For example, a prison admittance cell was painted pink, reducing aggression by admitted inmates for over 30 minutes. Over time, however, aggression went up...way up. Why?

Because an immediate reaction to pink is different than prolonged. A long period of exposure causes us to see pink's main undertone when color mixing...red.

See why behavior is so important to also know about in a color psychology study?

 

Why This Site Is The Most Comprehensive On Color Psychology

 

There a lot of different color psychology gurus out there. What makes me so different?

I think there's always information to be gathered + things to learn from all the other experts out there. I will not debunk them because they're all incredible in their own unique way.

I think where I differ however, is that I have specifically studied color psychology in multiple aspects. I've studied it in film, how films use color to move someone emotionally through a visual story. I even got a degree in it. Then I got a degree in interior design, because I wanted to understand how the colors in our environment could not only become beautiful, but reflect who we are and who we're hoping to be.

Then I got a degree in natural medicine. I wanted to study light, and how it was specifically absorbed by certain plants to help heal ailments in the body. That brought me to study color more in terms of branding, business, healing, communication, understanding how color really touches every aspect of everything.

The way I look at color psychology isn't just telling you what season you are, what clothes you should wear, how you should brand your business, how you can help support your body. It's a more holistic look, a 360 degree look into how you can truly use color to start communicating, as it is simply being manipulated by something you don't understand.

 

Color Psychology - A Secret Language

 

I believe that the bedrock to color psychology is how we communicate. It is our only universal language.

It affects us spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It spans time, cultures, religions, science, behavior, art and even wars.

When it comes to why color psychology is relevant to you, I would say to look at the clothes you have on. Look at the scene around you, whether you're at home or at work or shopping. Look around + see what you've recently bought. What caused you to buy it?

You may say that you liked it or you needed it - but studies show that 93% of a person's buying decisions are due to its color. Wild, right?

Color Psychology affects us with pretty much every decision on a daily basis: what clothes we put on our body, what makeup we put on our face, how we dye our hair, what foods we eat, the colors we have in our home + business environments...even how we buy.

It is an all encompassing reality that most of us have never been made aware of. But you can bet for sure that all of the different companies, especially the ones we buy from, are hugely aware of color psychology. And they have definitely manipulated us throughout the years, whether it be to take a certain medication, to buy a certain toy, or to buy a certain product.

What I'd like to do is to have us learn how to truly understand color psychology + how it relates to our lives.

Then, we can not only be more informed in our daily choices, but also in how we present ourselves.

For some of us - how we represent our business. How empowering would it be to know that when you're connecting with an ideal client, you're showcasing exactly who you are in full integrity in full truth. You're showing them exactly who you are, how you plan to help them + what your business is about in a single visual display.

That's my goal.

To help people understand how to use color psychology for their best benefit.

I've seen it happen time + time again. An outfit tweak improving confidence. A business brand tweak increasing conversions. A wall paint boosting connection.

That's my biggest goal: to teach color psychology in an easy to consume way where you can inject it easily into your life and business.

By learning the language of color, we will more effectively communicate.

By learning the language of color, we'll build stronger relationships.

By learning the language of color, we'll appreciate our surroundings + create them strategically.

And, most importantly, we'll heal.

 

 

REFLECTION

 

Is there an aspect to color psychology you haven't previously considered? I'd love to hear about it! At the bottom of this page, you'll see my Instagram feed. Feel free to DM me there or even record a reflection + tag me @thecolorcure. I'd absolutely LOVE to connect about color!

I hope you've enjoyed this breakdown of the elements I believe comprise color psychology. In the future, I will be delving into more category-specific color psychology breakdowns: including branding, tonal color harmony, color seasons + healing techniques. Color is truly the cure + I can't wait to show you why!

 

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