Psychology of color: meaning and curiosities of colors
The color psychology It is a field of study that is aimed at analyzing how we perceive and behave towards different colors, as well as the emotions that these tones arouse in us.
There are certain subjective aspects in the psychology of color, so do not forget that there may be certain variations in interpretation and meaning between cultures . In spite of everything, there are certain accepted principles that we are going to review in this article and that apply fundamentally to western societies.
Psychology of color: influence on emotions and mental state
Did you know that the colors around you may be influencing your emotions and your mental state? Did you know that certain tones can irritate you or, on the contrary, relax and calm you? Well, you should know that the colors that surround you can have an effect on you.
This statement is not new. In fact, many companies design their logos taking into account the colors they use, because in this way they send a message or another to the consumer. When a store is decorated, it is also valued what colors are used, since it is almost a necessity that people feel the desire to buy when they are in the store. But not only the psychology of color is used to obtain an economic benefit. In art therapy, color is associated with the emotions of the person and is a way to influence the patient's physical and mental state. For example, studies have shown that red increases the heart rate, which, in turn, causes an increase in adrenaline and makes individuals feel energetic and excited.
- Related article: Art therapy: psychological therapy through art
The psychology of color in everyday life
The fact that colors provoke an emotional effect on us does not sound strange at all. In fact, it is part of our everyday language. In other words, it's common to talk about warm colors , like red, yellow or orange, which can provoke different reactions, from positive (warmth) or negative (hostility and anger). Or, on the other hand, we also usually talk about cold colors , such as green or blue, which usually cause a sense of calm but also sadness.
Since we are all familiar with these concepts, the psychology of color is used in everyday life. For example, when you paint your house and consider what colors you want for your home because you are going to spend many hours in there. When you do that, you usually keep in mind how the different shades will make you feel: an elegant gray for the living room? A green kitchen that is associated with spring and freshness? Maybe you like yoga and meditation and you want a white room because you know it has a relaxing effect. These are just some examples of how we use the psychology of color almost without realizing it.
Emotional and psychological colors marketing
Perhaps the area in which the psychology of color is most applied is in marketing. It is usual to believe that the decisions we make when buying are based on a rational analysis, but, on many occasions, our emotions are the ones that decide for us.
Since a time ago. and as far as decision-making is concerned, even modern neuroscience had focused only on the cognitive aspects of the brain, forgetting emotions. All this changed with Antonio Damasio's book called "The error of Descartes". A text of highly recommended psychology that provides scientific evidence on the importance of emotions in our decisions.
And how do we get to the customer's heart? Well, through the senses, basically thanks to hearing and sight . That's why, when you enter a fashion store, it plays energetic music and you can appreciate a decoration and a colorful one that says: "buy, buy, buy". According Color Marketing Group, a company specialized in the use of colors, almost 85% of the reasons why a person chooses a product over another has to do with the perception of color.
The psychology of color is also applied in branding. Did you know that red stimulates the appetite? Well that's true, according to different investigations. So it's no wonder that well-known fast food chains like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC and Wendy's use this color in their logos and installations.
- Recommended article: "Emotional Marketing: reaching the heart of the client"
The symbolism of colors and how they affect the human mind
The symbolism of colors is a territory that is certainly ambiguous and that, sometimes, it is not completely accepted in the scientific field. As already said, the color has many readings depending on the context in question.However, next we will identify the most important colors with their meanings more or less accepted (at least in the West).
In Western cultures (and also in some Eastern cultures, such as Hindu), the white color represents the pure and innocent , as well as cleanliness, peace and virtue. In Eastern and African cultures it is the color of death: the pure soul that goes away.
Yellow represents light and gold. It is usually related to happiness, wealth, power, abundance, strength and action . However, researchers consider it one of the most ambiguous colors, because it also represents envy, anger and betrayal. The excessive presence of intense yellow can irritate a person, since we are usually used to seeing it on relatively small surfaces.
The Red it is associated with stimulation, passion, strength, revolution, manhood and danger . Probably, this has a lot to do with the fact that red is the color of blood, which we also associate with a certain notion of vitality, aggressiveness and extreme sensations. It is one of the colors with the greatest consensus among experts and, in fact, wearing this color leads us to behave in a slightly more assertive and extraverted way.
Orange is associated with enthusiasm and action. As well can relate to lust and sensuality, with the divine and the exaltation . In the world of political marketing, it is often said that orange is the most optimistic color of all, at least in Western societies.
The blue it is the color of the sky and the water, and represents tranquility, freshness and intelligence . In the world of marketing, it is used in many logos such as Facebook or Twitter. It is an elegant and corporate color, one of the most used by companies. It transmits trust and purity.
The green represents youth, hope and new life, but also represents action and the ecological . Interior decorators agree that a room painted with a soft green color encourages relaxation and well-being.
Purple is highly valued in the world of marketing, since represents sophistication and elegance . In addition, this color is usually associated with mystery, nostalgia and spirituality. It is a color widely used in anti-aging products, precisely because of that touch of glamor it gives off.
Pink is a color with well-defined attributes: it is the color of sweetness, delicacy, friendship and pure love . Our cultural heritage also associates it with the feminine.
Gray has somewhat different connotations depending on the culture. While some people perceive this color as indeterminacy or mediocrity, experts in color psychology give it a different meaning: peace, tenacity and tranquility .
The black has negative connotations because it is associated with death, evil or destruction . In contrast, in ancient Egypt it represented fertility and growth. Due to its relationship with darkness, black symbolizes mystery and the unknown. In the world of fashion, black is the color of elegance, formality and sobriety.
- Heller, Eva (2004). Color psychology. How colors act on feelings and reason. Ed. Gustavo Gili.