Color psychology: what does it consist of?

Color has a greater influence than people attribute to it. We teach you what color psychology is and why it is important.

Last update: December 19, 2021

Do you think that your mood can change when interacting with certain colors? Do you think there is an explicit reason for brands to opt for these in their products? Are you convinced that the colors of fruits and vegetables have an influence on your appetite? If so, you are not alone. All this and much more is the central axis of the psychology of color.

Color psychology is thought by many to be a recent discipline, but formally it is almost a hundred years old. Carl Jung was one of those who popularized it, although in practice for millennia special properties have been attributed to color: from enhancing attractiveness to conveying a sense of respect. We will teach you in the next few lines everything you need to know about the psychology of color.

What is the psychology of color?

Color psychology is a discipline that studies the effects of color exposure on people. According to its postulates, the various frequencies of the wavelength can influence the way someone behaves, speaks, thinks and makes decisions.

Color is made up of different wavelength frequencies in the visible spectrum of light (there are spectra that the human eye cannot see, such as infrared). The classical theory was established by Newton in the 17th century with his work on the scattering of white light in prisms. He determined that the spectrum is made up of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and purple.

Since then, we have had a scientific understanding of what color is. Of course, long before it has been attributed healing, miraculous, relaxing or symbolic properties. The psychology of color, despite its detractors, has a direct impact on design, marketing, sports, some medical therapies, and suggestion. We summarize its principles:

  • The influence of color is determined by social variables (age, culture, gender, social status, and so on).
  • Although generalizations can be made, color actually affects people individually.
  • Its influence is assimilated unconsciously.
  • The changes generated by exposure to certain spectra occur in seconds (less than a minute, generally).
  • The impact of colors is felt in different facets of everyday life (when buying a product, finding a meal appetizing and feeling attracted to someone, for example).
  • It can alter mood, behavior, and decision-making.

These six principles summarize very well what the psychology of color is. It has innumerable practical effects, although the most important are found in marketing and emotion regulation. In the next sections we analyze each case.

Color and marketing

It has long been known that using colors correctly can have many benefits in commerce.

A study published in 2006 in Management Decision found that people make a decision in 90 seconds regarding their interaction with people and products. The researchers determined that between 62% and 90% of the final evaluation in this time is made exclusively taking into account the criteria of colors.

This is why colors are a central piece in marketing and product procurement. The color of the packaging of your favorite products is not accidental. We leave you with some examples that allow you to better understand its influence:

  • According to the evidence, people are willing to pay more for green products when they are related to the color white.
  • The color red has been shown to cause higher bid jumps in auctions.
  • It is common knowledge that brands do studies on which colors cause the best reception in the nations where they are advertised. They regulate advertising accordingly.
  • The distinction of blue toys for boys and pink toys for girls continues to this day. Experts have found that brands use neutral tones to advertise toys for both genders.
  • Some evidence suggests that the color blue can reduce appetite, so it is used with caution when packaging food products.

This is just one example of how the psychology of color has a real impact on people’s daily lives. Its use is not limited only to products, but also to the spaces where they are sold. This is millimetrically designed thinking about increasing sales and stimulating your buying habits.

Color and emotions

On the relationship between color and emotions, we can write thousands of lines. Certainly, surely you yourself have experienced that before some colors your mood is modified (both for better and for worse). We leave you with a couple of examples:

  • Neurotic people and those who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder often express angry and loving reactions to the color red. Neurotypical people also have similar reactions to this color.
  • According to the researchers, the color blue often conveys emotions related to tranquility and relaxation. It can also lower the heart rate.
  • Experts have suggested that the color green is related to positive emotions (joy, hope, fun, and so on).
  • According to the evidence, the color black can suggest feelings and emotions associated with envy, fear and anger.

This is just a sample of how color can mediate the manifestation of your emotions. The color of the clothes you wear, the room you are in, the products you eat, the posts you see on social media and so on have a negative or positive impact based on the context.

Color psychology as therapy

Despite the fact that there is not much evidence in this regard, it is a fact that many patients claim that their symptoms are alleviated by exposure to certain colors.

Miraculous properties have been attributed to color for centuries. For example, ancient Egyptians used color-coded rooms to treat patient conditions. Today the practice has evolved to what is known as chromotherapy.

Although experts doubt about the use of color when treating a disease (practices that are attributed to alternative medicine), the evidence that has been found in this regard is still interesting. Certainly much of this is mediated by suggestion or the placebo effect. Even so, we will point you out some interesting curiosities:

  • Some researchers have used color to treat anxiety with favorable results.
  • Evidence suggests that certain shades of color (red and green) may increase cognitive ability in older adults.
  • Some scientists have used chromotherapy to reduce stress. The theory indicates that colors are capable of altering the nerves of the autonomic nervous system.
  • Bacteria and enzymes have been found to be excited by interaction with certain frequencies of light. This can have implications for wound healing, for example.

Despite the evidence presented, in general Doctors are hesitant about using color therapy to treat mental or physical conditions. Despite this, it is another manifestation of the psychology of color.

Without a doubt, the visible light spectra have a greater significance than is attributed to them, to the point that they can regulate a person’s life and emotions.

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