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What does the color black mean in Psychology?

What does the color black mean in Psychology?

July 29, 2022

We are in the middle of nature, on a closed night and with storm clouds covering the light of the Moon and the stars. Darkness and blackness make it difficult to see, something broken only by the light of lightning. We do not know what surrounds us, if something or someone there stalking or even if we are about to rush down a cliff.

In this context, something common throughout the history of mankind, blackness is obviously something frightening and anguishing. And the truth is that the color associated with the absence of light, black (although in nature it is practically impossible to find total darkness), has dragged throughout the history of this conception and has acquired a certain symbolism that lasts even today, may cause different effects on our psyche. and our behavior (something that in fact has been observed by both psychology and other sciences and even arts). What does the meaning of black mean in psychology? Let's see it throughout this article.


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The absence of light

Before starting to assess what the black color implies, it is necessary to first assess what this color is. In general, the perception of color is produced by the arrival in the eye of certain wavelengths of light that are produced by absorbing the objects part of the light and reflect the rest in such a way that it can reach our eyes. In other words, the colors come from and are in fact the product of the capture of our eyes from light.

In the case of black, it is not like that. Traditionally black has been considered as the total absence of color, as opposed to white that would imply the mixing of all colors. But in fact more than absence of color (at the end of the day we do not stop perceiving it, and also at the level of pigment in the background the mixture of all the colors would give black), we should talk about the absence of light . And this is because at a visual level, if we see a black color it is because the object in question (or the dye that impregnates it) absorbs all the wavelengths of the light that arrives to it, therefore it can not be reflected in our retina.


In the same way we see this color in total darkness, and for the same reasons: black is the product of the absence of the arrival of light in our eyes. In short, we could say that the perception of black is, in reality, not perception. But the truth is that it is complex that no type of light is reflected at all, something that allows us to get to detect different types of black.

  • Maybe you're interested: "What does the color red mean in Psychology?"

What does the color black mean?

As with the rest of the colors, the black has been acquiring a symbolic and psychological meaning over time (in turn influenced by the symbolism) depending on those elements that have been associated with that color. In particular, the most obvious connection of black is with darkness and night, that is, the absence of light. And in this sense they have been granted a series of links, mostly negative. In fact, we are probably facing the color that has received the worst consideration, being its union with other reasons that its symbolism turns towards the negative.


In this sense, we link the black with the unknown, the terrifying, the dark and even the evil. It is a color associated with what scares us and what we can not see (something logical considering that in the absence of light the only visible thing is blackness). This also makes it associated with aspects that are also unknown to us and scare us, being the best known death (It is one of the colors most associated with mourning, although not the only one). It is also related to loneliness, suffering, sadness and longing.

Also with cruelty, lies, manipulation, betrayal and concealment. Negation is considered, the antithesis of the visible (for example, if light red represents energy and passion its association with black is usually linked to violence and excess) and danger. Also, also It has been linked to individualism and introversion .

On the other hand, although traditionally the negative aspects with which the relation is related are usually valued, it is true that the black also has more neutral or even positive connotations. It is about the color of the mystery (which does not always have to be negative), the seriousness and the elegance, as well as that of the nobility. Perhaps because of its connection with death, it is also usually linked to strength and power, to the absolute and to dominance and autonomy. Also of rebellion against the established. And even though it may seem strange, sometimes even with the peace and the end of the pain. It is also a symbol of simplicity, order and inner life.

Psychologically, black tends to generate a sense of doubt and mystery, and can generate both fear and curiosity. It is associated, according to Eva Heller, with youth and impartiality. In addition to it generates a sense of elegance, usually suggesting security and strength , as well as distinctiveness. Its practical use often leads to others the appreciation of greater reliability and even attractiveness. It also usually gives the impression of sobriety and formality. But it can also provoke feelings of intimidation, distance and arrogance if it is given in excess. It also usually generates a sense of protection for the user and for the attenuation of the emotional, including the restriction and inhibition of its expression.

The use of black in everyday life

Although it has traditionally been a frowned-upon color, black is used in a large number of settings and contexts.

Probably one of the contexts in which the use of black is most known is in that of funerals, being one of the most widespread mourning colors in Western society. However, black is appropriate for a lot of celebrations, some much happier. For example, it is the color that brides usually wear at weddings, due to its connection with force, security and formality .

Beyond specific social events, black is often used because it is stylized and easily combined with almost any color. Its use is usual in people who do not like to attract attention. In some cases, it can also be used to give the impression of being mysterious or rebellious. In addition, it is a color that tends to absorb heat, something to avoid in already hot environments or to look for others that are colder.

It is a color that is also useful in the workplace, giving a sense of seriousness and professionalism in job interviews . In many trades it is usually a usual color due to the aforementioned relationship with seriousness and impartiality, as in the case of judges.

Regarding its use in homes and inside buildings, it usually leads to an impression of masculinity and sophistication. In spite of this, it is not advisable to paint a room completely black, given that it will give a feeling of constriction and smallness and probably will be linked to psychic states of depressive type . As for business meetings, its connection with concealment makes it not entirely appropriate beyond specific elements.

However, the use of decorations and black elements as a contrast will generate the sensation of sobriety mentioned above. As with clothing, the fact that it absorbs heat can also be valuable.

At the level of marketing and advertising, it is often used in brands that aim to generate a vision of elegance and exclusivity, strength and purity. It is usually linked to luxury, along with gold.

The black color in different cultures

The meaning of black is usually the one we talked about previously, but it is necessary to take into account that different cultures have a different relationship with that color.

Specifically, in desert places black is usually linked to rain, being the storm clouds of that color. In ancient Egypt it was a symbol of growth and fertility . At present, also African tribes with the Masai usually relate black with life and prosperity, because they are usually associated with rain.

Other cultures such as the Japanese link it with femininity, as well as with mystery. In ancient China he was considered the king of colors. These cultures usually link the black with the water element, as well as with childhood. It is thought that this color gives us spiritual strength, linking with the energy known as chi. It was also considered beautiful, to the point that it was once considered beautiful to dye the teeth of that color.

As far as religions are concerned, Christianity often identified it with evil, death and pain, but also rejection of the material. Also in the case of Judaism it has been associated with death and unhappiness, and in the case of Islam, it is associated with pain and sadness (Although the Kaaba of Mecca is black, it is thought that it was white in its origin but was colored by the sin of men). In India it is also associated with nothing and evil, although in spite of this it is used as protection against it: the goddess Kali has the complexion of this color, being the goddess who fights against evil.


The Psychology Behind Colors (July 2022).


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