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What does the color white mean in Psychology?

What does the color white mean in Psychology?

May 24, 2022

White is an achromatic color that is normally opposed to black because it is just the opposite: it is absolute clarity, or the absence of darkness.

But it is not simply that, since beyond what is technically the target, it remains the impact it has on the human mind. An impact modulated by the culture in which one lives and by the system of symbols from which reality is experienced, of course, and which is related to a series of sensations and concepts that evokes us when we see it.

In this article we will see what the white color means in different societies and cultures , focusing especially on Western countries.

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

What does the color white mean in different cultures?

Keep in mind that there is no universal meaning of white, but this it is always mediated by the cultural context in which we have been educated and that influences us during the day to day. So, let's see what concepts and sensations evokes white distinguishing by cultural blocks.


In the West

As we will see, in western countries the balne is associated with a series of concepts that are associated with a fragile and momentary equilibrium, a state in which there are no antagonisms or stridencies. Somehow, these place the target in a position of closeness to the spiritual, which has traditionally been seen as beyond matter and not subject to the imperfections of the earthly .

1. Purity and ingenuity

The paradox of white is that, despite being the combination of all the colors present in the rainbow, it represents purity. This has been the meaning of the white most associated with the white, meaning by purity, normally, that which has not been corrupted, for which it has clear moral connotations.


Perhaps this is because the white color is seen as something of precarious existence, which can vanish when any other element comes into contact with it; the immaculate happens to stain when the white is invaded by the dirt that comes from other elements.

For a similar reason, in Western countries white means innocence, given that this is related to childhood, which has not had time to be corrupted . It is a fatalistic perception of the life cycle that is embodied in our way of attributing meanings to this color. In addition, the concept of naivety is also related to the target.

On the other hand, since white is purity, it is also widely used in ceremonies related to the sacred, given that it is said that before the divine it is necessary to present oneself without blemish. The wedding dresses are the clearest example of this.


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

2. The clean

In addition, white represents clean, sterilized, also related to purity. Thus, It is widely used in the hospitality industry and in the health sector , to reassure people and convey a sense of calm.

3. Peace

Another of the meanings of white is that of peace, which is often symbolized by the figure of a white dove. In fact, that's also why is linked to the flag of surrenders and those used to request a truce .

The reason why white means peace may have to do with the fact that it is beyond the chromatic compositions typical of the flags and the emblems of the clans that confront each other in battles.

While the rest of the colors are usually present in concrete figures that serve to distinguish sides, white is perceived as something with its own entity, being the union of all colors, and that therefore is beyond the frontline logic based in the division.

4. Nothing

From what we have seen, white too represents the absence of matter, the emptiness . This representation of nothingness allows us to locate the target in the concept of what exists "by default", independently of everything else.

A blank space is there without anything having to fill it, since white is nothing, and will be full when we add something. Perhaps this has to do with the meaning of purity, which leads us to think about this color as if it were an element to which nothing has yet affected it, and to which everything is to be added.

In China

Interestingly, in China white has traditionally symbolized death and bad luck . At weddings, instead of white, the color red has been used.

In India

In Indian culture, white symbolizes the contemplative life and apart from the rest of society, something linked to the Western notion of purity, but with more social and isolation connotations . Therefore, widows usually go white, not black.

Bibliographic references:

  • Plochere Color System. Kenneth L. Kelly and Deanne B. Judd. (1976): "Color: Universal Language and Dictionary of Names", National Bureau of Standards, Spec. Publ. 440
  • Heller, Eva (2012). Color psychology. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili.

The Color White - Color Psychology (May 2022).


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