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What does the color orange mean in Psychology?

What does the color orange mean in Psychology?

March 28, 2024

The color orange is one of the secondary colors that is associated with the exotic, the fun and the enthusiasm. But not only this; The psychology of colors has proposed different meanings and effects according to the specific hue of the orange, as well as different uses.

In this article we will see what it is and what does the color orange mean according to the psychology of color , as well as some uses in consumer psychology.

  • Related article: "Psychology of color: meaning and curiosities of colors"

The psychology of color

The relationship between colors and our mental and subjective processes has been studied for a long time, not only by psychology, but also by philosophy, physics and other areas of knowledge.

Among the proposals that have emerged from these studies is the idea that colors are an active part of our environment, with which, they are endowed with a series of meanings. The latter give shape and at the same time they are a reflection of our perceptions and emotions .

In addition, they are meanings that have emerged from our cultural interaction with colors. That is, according to the colors they were defined by different human societies , in relation to the phenomena of nature, each one was acquiring a special meaning, as well as the possibility of activating emotions, thoughts and psychophysical effects.

Pioneers in this field are the studies made in the early 1800s by the German novelist and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who took up Newton's theories on the decomposition of light, to analyze the moral effects of colors, as well as intellectual characteristics , traditional and of status according to the context.

In the contemporary era the studies of Eva Heller are recognized, who tells us for example that the orange color was popularized in Europe until the migration and the wars brought the fruit from the east. In the same way, he proposes that all colors they have a meaning not only cultural but psychological , and it is also a meaning that can vary if the colors are combined with each other.

How do you get the orange?

By decomposing sunlight into a glass prism different wavelengths are generated which in turn produce a range of colors: violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. From these are derived three combinations of colored lights that can recreate white light. These lights are green, blue-violet and red-orange, which are considered primary colors. The above is known as the Law of the mixture of the colors of light, or also as the RGB System (Red, Green, Blue), the additive Synthesis, or the Trichromic Process.

However, there is another way to analyze colors. This is the material Law of color, also called CMYK System (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) or process of process, which is the law that has allowed to generate inks and reproduce color images, so it is the most used.

From this law the primary colors red, yellow and blue are derived. The latter are the only ones that are not produced from the mixture of others, but that yes they can mix with each other to originate all the shades that the human eye can appreciate.

On the other hand, the colors violet, green and orange are known as secondary colors, since they are obtained from the mixture of the primary ones. As it happens with other colors, the orange has a wide chromatic range, that is to say, it is made up of different tonalities, and each one of them can represent different elements.

What does the color orange mean?

The different shades of orange have been related to personality traits, attitudes, motivations and emotions . It mainly represents joy, enthusiasm and fun. It has also been related to the exotic, which does not generate pleasure for all people.

It is related to sociability, originality, extraversion, activity or enthusiasm and closeness. On the other hand, some tonalities of the orange represent the excessively striking, a frivolous and conventional attitude; and other tonalities also represent the inadequacy and danger.

Likewise, orange has been associated with lust and sensuality. Its combination with gray evokes at the same time discretion and extroversion ; and the mixture between orange and white evokes the striking and at the same time the moderate. This last part of Heller's theory says that there is a specific combination of colors that has opposite and contradictory effects on a psychological level. In cultural terms he has frequently used in Buddhism and in relation to Protestantism.

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

In consumer psychology

Something that psychology has studied is how different brands base their communication with the consumer through a symbology of shapes and colors . They start from the idea that the use made of colors determines to a great extent the success of the message; since the colors evoke different emotions according to the characteristics of the target audience. That is, color influences even our decisions, so it has had important implications in consumer psychology.

Specifically, in consumer psychology, orange, as well as red and yellow, have been associated with the stimulation of appetite and flavors , so they have been used to advertise different foods and restaurant chains.

Related to this, the psychophysical psychology of color has found the relationship between the intense orange color and the sweet taste experience. Warm colors such as yellow, red and orange provoke a positive purchase response its association with optimism .

Bibliographic references:

  • Álvarez, O. (2011). Influence of color on consumer preferences. Calasanz Observatory Magazine, 2 (4): 228-246.
  • Heller, E. (2004). Color psychology. How colors act on feelings and reason. Editorial Gustavo Gili: Spain.
  • Llorente, C. (2018). Comparative analysis of the chromatic symbology in advertising. Nike in China and Spain. Vivat Academy. Journal of Communication, 142: 51-78.
  • Martínez, A. (1979). Color psychology. Dynamic plastic. 35:37. Retrieved September 12, 2018. Available at //
  • Romero, JV and Serrano, ML. (1968). Do the colors influence the taste? Interamerican journal of psychology, 2 (3): 144-157.
  • Valdez, P. and Mehrabian, A. (1994). Effects of color on emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 123 (4): 394-409.

The Psychology Behind Colors (March 2024).

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