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Purple Color Psychology

Updated on September 1, 2017
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I love color! What's life without some good colors to brighten it up?

Purple Dubonnet butterfly bushes, beautiful in the backyard.
Purple Dubonnet butterfly bushes, beautiful in the backyard. | Source

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "purple"?

See results

Purple is Mysterious

The color of mystery, spirituality, and harmony with one's surroundings and self, when overused purple can also be considered artificial and contrived, since the closest natural pigment, indigo, is not easily found in nature.

In 2008, Pantone decreed the color of the year as Blue Iris, a wonderfully balanced purple and blue. It combines the pacific stability of blue with the inscrutability and transcendental qualities of purple.

Said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute at the end of 2007, "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic."

Modern American Color Associations

General Appearance
Mental Associations
Direct Associations
Objective Impressions
Subjective Impressions
Deep, soft, atmospheric
Cool, mist, darkness, shadow
Mourning, Easter
Dignified, pompous, mournful, mystic
Loneliness, desperation
Large chunks of natural amethyst
Large chunks of natural amethyst | Source
A selection of beauty products marketed using purple
A selection of beauty products marketed using purple | Source

The Color of Royalty

But there's more to purple than being the color of drapes in shops selling spiritual items! Purple has been considered the color of royalty and wealth for centuries (especially the more costly, darker shades), while also stimulating the brain in its problem solving abilities.

In marketing, many companies use purple artfully to continue with the mysterious aspect of the color, but when used in its lighter tones such as lavender, tends toward association with springtime, romance, and youth especially when combined with white, traditionally the color of purity.

Treating Disease with Purple

Practitioners of Ayurvedic chromatherapy (color in healing), believe that purple has certain effects that assist in cures. They believe:

  • Purple has analgesic (painkilling), anti-pyretic (cooling), narcotic, and hypnotic properties
  • It is the color of anger, divinity, and royalty
  • Purple is a venous stimulant
  • The color may be used to assist in energizing someone without making their condition worse (i.e. if they suffer from kidney, lung, or stomach ailments)

In this picture, the homeowner painted a single wall in a soothing black raspberry tone.
In this picture, the homeowner painted a single wall in a soothing black raspberry tone. | Source

Decorating with Purple

There are so many ways to use purple in your home, without it appearing like a yoga studio, an old-fashioned receiving hall, or an overdone powder room.

Here are some suggestions:

Add a cozy purplish area rug to your entry hall -- it will make your guests feel welcome and the dark color will conceal any dirt from their footwear.

Paint the bathroom in lilac, lavender, or mauve. Lighter purple tones are soothing and if you desire to take a bath, why not be surrounded by a gentle color?

Pair purple with a bright white or fresh golden yellow for a sharp look; if you desire something more traditional, try medium browns or tan tones instead.

In the bedroom, a purple sheet set will make you feel like a million bucks.

When all else fails, a plant with purple blooms or freshly cut flowers always help to spruce a place up.

You might be surprised at how well purple can fit into your home!

The Royal Coat of Arms of England
The Royal Coat of Arms of England | Source

Facts About Purple

  • The ancient remedy of using the purple dye extracted from murex shells to stop the overgrowth of granulation tissue was the earliest use of calcium oxide to assist in medical use. Today, that compound is used as "Dakin's solution".
  • Turtles have well-developed vision, and the most important hues for them include violet.
  • Violet has the most subduing influence, with standard purple following.
  • Purple has been associated with tragedy.
  • In an abstract form, purple is soft and flowing, and suggests the form of an oval.
  • In ancient heraldry, purple stands for royalty or rank.
  • Purple vestments worn by Roman Catholic clergy symbolizes affliction and melancholy.


Amber, Reuben, Color Therapy. Aurora Press, New York, 1983.

Birren, Faber,Color Psychology and Color Therapy. Citadel Publishing, New York, 1950


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