Guide to Understanding and Using Color Psychology

Want to be a professional in any of the creative or artistic fields? Everyone from interior decorators to web designers to fashion consultants can boost their professional expertise by understanding color – and by taking this understanding beyond Color Theory.

This article is a guide to the basics of color psychology. Please take a look at the quick reference cards included with the article – they can be printed and saved for looking back on later.

Color and Our Mood

Short and sweet? Color affects our mood. Depending on what part of the world we live in, we bring with us perceptions of color based on the cultures we’ve been raised in.

Even within a single country, the “meaning” of certain colors have changed over time.

Psychiatrists today are able to pinpoint a few universal truths about color and its effect on our “psyche”. You’ll find, though, that conventional psychology completely dismisses the idea that color can affect our moods – they will simply admit to the fact that colors affect the way we react to the world we live in.

Why does any of this even matter? Simple – if you’re creating a website that should bring ideas of nature and all things natural, you’ll want to stay far away from purple; this color appears so rarely in the natural world that it is seen as “artificial”. However, if you’re decorating a home and want to convey a feeling of luxury, wealth, and sophistication, purple is the color you want to focus your accents on.

Because our feelings about color can be subjective depending on what our culture has brought us to believe about them, there are some universal meanings that give you a good idea of the validity of color psychology:

âÂ?¢ Red, Orange, Yellow, and Pink fall in the red area of the color spectrum. These are “warm” colors that bring feelings of comfort, security, and warmth. Very bright shades of these colors can evoke feelings of anger and hostility – think “hot”.
âÂ?¢ Blue, Purple, and Green fall in the blue area of the color spectrum. These “cool” colors are often described as calming, fresh, and (in the case of green) natural. Many cultures also attribute feelings of sadness, indifference, and depression to these colors, though. The clichÃ?© “I’m feeling blue” comes to mind.

Because of the way that color affects our mood, many cultures have used colors as a type of therapy. The Egyptians and Chinese have since ancient times practiced chromatherapy, sometimes referred to as light therapy or colorology, and this form of bringing about physical change based on color remains a popular holistic healing treatment.

The ways that light therapy is believed to work point to more affects of color psychology:

âÂ?¢ Red – used to stimulate the body and the mind. Belived to increase circulation.
âÂ?¢ Yellow – used to stimulate the body’s nerves and for purification
âÂ?¢ Orange – used to heal the lungs and increase energy.
âÂ?¢ Blue – used to soothe emotional stress and treat pain.
âÂ?¢ Purple – used to alleviate skin problems.

Colors in Career

I’ve already mentioned the idea that colors can – and should – affect the way that we perform creative and artistic works. The simple rules of choosing good color combinations are ingrained in most of us who work with colors often – adding to those rules a few ideas about how color affects the mind of people takes very little effort, and can really make a difference in how your work is perceived.

Advertising is one field that uses color psychology to a distinct advantage. For instance, when selling products on a website you would want to understand the role that color has on a person’s desire to purchase products. Red stimulates us into action, represents aggressiveness, excitement, and when paired up with gray it represents impulsiveness. While white remains to be seen as “professional”, it is color that makes the first impression.

Try printing out the cards that are attached to this article, and referencing them the next time that you prepare for a project. Incorporate at least 1 color chosen specifically for its color psychology affects, and enjoy the dramatic change in how your work is perceived. I promise you’ll not only “look” more professional, but you will also be able to quickly and easily perform more professional work.

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