To speak of the psychology of color is to speak of emotions. It is a type of language capable of evoking feelings of pleasure, well-being, restlessness or vitality. It is a universe that goes beyond the world of marketing and is often rooted in personal experiences, in our childhood and in a psychological symbolism that science has always tried to unravel.
Claude Monet used to say that the world of color was his daily obsession, his joy and also his torment. If it is not easy for an artist to capture the subtlety of each tone and each combination, it is even more difficult to define how each tone impacts the human being and his behavior.
“What is being before the color of the world? The color of the world is greater than the feeling of man “
-Juan Ramón Jimenez-
So much so that there is no shortage of those who see it almost as a pseudoscience, and in a way there is a “small” part of truth in it. If there is one thing that is clear, it is that color has a lot to do with our personal preferences, with our experiences, upbringing and even with our cultural differences. However, and here comes perhaps the most interesting thing of all, is that we have a large number of studies that explain how people react to certain colors or which are, on average, the most appreciated.
Thus, one of the most interesting books on the subject is “Psychology of color: how colors act on feelings and reason” by the psychologist, sociologist and professor of communication theory Eva Heller. This interesting work is the result of years of research, surveys and observations where it was concluded with truly interesting data, which in turn, coincide with many that were taken before and after.
As a curiosity, we can advance a single data: the most appreciated color on average is blue.
Color psychology: what is its purpose?
Color stimulates our brain in many different ways. So much so that in the past, Egyptians and Chinese used the effect of color with the idea of healing and favoring certain states of consciousness or to promote a certain emotional state. Ancient art also took good care of the choice of colors, thus, red was for the Egyptians the reflection of life, the earth, victory and also the anger or fury of hostile gods such as Seth or Apophis.
Color, in essence, is much more than an optical phenomenon. Everyone has their own meaning, all create a certain impact on our brain, and therefore, the psychology of color is today a basic and essential tool for today ‘s neuromercadotecnia. Understanding how the consumer reacts to certain color stimuli can cause the purchase index to rise, and although its effect is not always 100% infallible, similar reaction patterns are observed that come to show us that, indeed, psychology color has its utility.
Likewise, we cannot forget the effect that color has on the world of art and cinema. David Lynch, for example, is one of the directors most obsessed with escaping from the world of logic to immerse himself in the subtle kaleidoscope of emotions, hence, in his productions he always uses those contrasts between white and black because, according to him, symbolize the flight from the real world towards the dreamlike.
“Color is a means to exert direct influence on the soul: color is the cloth, the eye is the hammer, and the soul is the piano with its strings”
Van Gogh also deliberately chose certain tones to express his emotional states, always leaving the most vivid tones such as yellow and blue to shape his fields and starry nights.
Meaning and curiosities of each color
To immerse ourselves in that psychological universe of each color, we will follow the studies carried out by Dr. Eva Heller in her book, as well as the current works of the psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker, who recently produced an interesting analysis of applied colors. to the world of neuromarketing.
- It is the blue color that is the most used in companies for being productive and non-invasive.
- It is a color that suggests a sense of security and trust in a brand.
- Blue has been proven to suppress appetite, therefore it is avoided when promoting food.
- It is the color of harmony, fidelity and sympathy.
- It is the coldest color but still it is also linked to the concept of spirituality and fantasy.
- There are 111 shades of blue.
- It is a primary color, and for painters, the most appreciated shade of blue was “ultramarine blue.” It was the most expensive but the one that gave the paintings an exceptional vividness.
- Red is also one of the most used in marketing: it stands out from the rest of the range of colors, has more prominence and is used to attract attention.
- It increases the heart rate and creates a need for urgency, danger or immediacy.
- It is used to stimulate the appetite and to promote impulse purchases.
- It represents love but also hate.
- It is the color of kings, of joy and danger.
- Represents blood and life.
- It is a dynamic and seductive color capable of awakening our most aggressive side.
- In marketing it represents optimism and youth.
- Demonstrates clarity and is often used to attract the attention of certain products in display cases.
- This color can not be abused in stores, because it quickly fatigue the eyes. Thus, it is usually used more on peripheral shelves than on the central shelves of a store.
- Some studies show that deep yellow hues cause crying in babies.
- For experts in color psychology, yellow is a contradictory color: it represents both good and bad, optimism and jealousy, understanding and betrayal.
- Illuminate and promote creativity.
- It is a masculine color, and in China it represented the imperial institutions.
- Green is the color of growth, renewal and rebirth.
- It is associated with health, nature, freshness and peace.
- It favors problem solving, as well as freedom, healing and tranquility.
- The opaque green represents money, economics and the bourgeoisie.
- There are more than 100 shades of green, with the intermediate ones being the most flattering for the mood.
- It also represents incipient love.
- It is a color that serves to relax, in fact it is useful for people who are going through a depression.
- The color black is associated with elegance, secrecy, mystery and also power.
- It generates strong emotions, it is an authoritative color.
- In the world of fashion it is considered that it stylizes and confers sophistication.
- There are 50 shades of black
- It also symbolizes the end of something, death, loss.
- In the past he represented the priests, today the conservatives.
- In the world of physics, black is one that has the property of absorbing 100% of the incident light, and therefore does not reflect any length of the spectrum, hence throughout history the black color as something associated with danger, evil or beyond.
“There are things in color that arise in me while I paint, big and intense things”
- The white color symbolizes innocence and purity.
- It represents the beginning, the will to start something new.
- It brings spaciousness and honesty to a space, as well as a feeling of peace, healing and tranquility.
- It is associated with perfection.
- There are 67 shades of white.
- The white collar on clothing symbolizes status.
- In marketing it is frequently used in beauty or anti-aging products.
- Provides calm.
- Many brands use it to represent creativity, imagination and wisdom.
- It is associated with the feminine, magic and spirituality.
- There are 41 shades of violet.
- Used intensively, it generates ambivalence: painting rooms, rooms or shops with this color is not recommended.
- Violet also symbolizes power, but also ambiguity.
- In marketing it is associated with enthusiasm for shopping, it reflects emotion and warmth.
- However, if an intense orange tone is used, it can be associated with aggression, therefore it is necessary to take care that the tone is soft, friendly and comfortable.
- It is one of the favorites in the world of advertising because it encourages the purchase.
- It is associated with transformation and Buddhism.
- Orange not only favors positive emotions, it also generates “taste” sensations.
- It symbolizes charm and courtesy.
- In marketing it is associated with the children’s world or romanticism.
- It is the tone of erotic tenderness.
- It symbolizes the tender, the childish or the small.
- It was Madame de Pompadour’s favorite color.
In conclusion, it is very possible that more than one of us do not identify ourselves with these descriptions – or perhaps we do. As we have pointed out at the beginning, the impact of each tone sometimes responds to part of our experiences. However, commercially and artistically, these fundamentals are always useful and effective.
Likewise, we also know that this list is missing other colors, such as brown, gold, silver or gray. We have limited ourselves to describing those that tend to have the greatest impact on us, those that the world of art and neuromarketing use most frequently and that almost without us noticing, decorate our lives by secretly influencing us.
What colors do you like the most?
Eva Heller , in her book ” Psychology of color: how colors act on feelings and reason “, offers a list of the colors that are most liked :
- Blue: 45%
- Green: 15%
- Red: 12%
- Black: 10%
- Yellow: 6%
- Violet: 3%
- Orange: 3%
- White: 2%
- Pink: 2%
- Brown: 1%
- Gold: 1%
What is Musical Intelligence and how to enhance it?
Musical Intelligence is a separate territory, it is the creative and artistic essence of the human being, an area that in turn has its own language …
Heller, Eva (2004) “Color psychology: how colors act on feelings and reason ” . Gustavo Gili: Madrid
Birren Faver (2000) “Color psychology and color therapy” . Express NY
Wong, Wucius (2006) “Principles of color design” Gustavo Gili: Madrid
Images courtesy Sakimichan, Marina Melvik