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Yellow Color Psychology

Updated on December 26, 2019
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I love color! What's life without some good colors to brighten it up?

A bright yellow gingko tree in bloom. There's no denying that this picture can lift someone's spirits!
A bright yellow gingko tree in bloom. There's no denying that this picture can lift someone's spirits! | Source

Yellow is Cheerful

Yellow, the brightest color of the spectrum, is well known for its friendly, expansive, happy, and sometimes childish effects. It's often used to cheer up those who are ill or convalescing -- ever notice yellow tones in hospitals or nursing homes?

in 2009, bright, warm, marigold-like yellow "Mimosa" was named as Pantone's color of the year. It was chosen for its appealing, engaging ability to create and spread optimism (especially during the economic downturn in 2008).

"The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance," stated Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

"Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation."

Modern American Color Associations

General Appearance
Mental Associations
Direct Associations
Objective Impressions
Subjective Impressions
Sunny, incandescent, radiant
Cheerful, inspiring, vital, celestial
High spirit, health

Table data from "Color Psychology and Color Therapy" by Faber Birren, color consultant and specialist.

Solar flare sending "shockwaves" on the sun
Solar flare sending "shockwaves" on the sun | Source

The Color of Joy

Yellow, the color of the sun is associated with fun and laughter. When viewing yellow, the brain actually releases larger amounts of serotonin, which makes the body feel good! Think about when you're at the beach, looking at vast expanses of sand. There may be other factors in play, but color is definitely one of the reasons you feel so happy. Yellow also has the power to speed up metabolism.

In marketing, yellow is considered positive and expected to boost sales, but only if used sparingly and in the right tones. Too much brightness in the color and tempers could flare up.

There is so much yellow in nature that there's no wonder it's considered a brightener.
There is so much yellow in nature that there's no wonder it's considered a brightener. | Source

Treating Disease with Yellow

According to practitioners of chromatherapy (a method of Ayurvedic medicine involving the use of color in healing), the effects of yellow are many. They include:

  • Being excellent for the nerves and brain as a motor stimulant and a nerve builder
  • Having a stimulating, cleansing action on the liver, intestines, and skin as it energizes the alimentary tract
  • Psychologically, yellow is beneficial for when one is feeling low or melancholy.

A selection of yellow items from the author's home
A selection of yellow items from the author's home | Source
Royal Opulence Divatex Home Fashions Satin Queen Sheet Set, 3 pcs, Gold
Royal Opulence Divatex Home Fashions Satin Queen Sheet Set, 3 pcs, Gold
In the bedroom, employ golden sheets for that opulent feeling.

Decorating with Yellow

Yellow is very easy to incorporate into one's living quarters. Personally, I'm very happy with the light yellow walls in my living room and halls, called out by a snuggly blanket in the same color and sparkly yellow throw pillows.

But if you crave something just as cheerful with a more adult bent, why not try a deep yellow in the furniture or burnished golden knickknacks on a side table? Yellow in art will also provide the same cheerful feelings. Pick up a Kandinsky print and appreciate the pointed yellow figures within.

Yellow in Music

The following synaesthetes assigned the color yellow certain attributes:

  • Christopher Ward considered yellow as a mellow, piping tone
  • Newton related colors to the diatonic scale, and yellow was D
  • To Rimsky-Korsakoff, sunlight was C major.

Facts About Yellow

  • In the ancient world, yellow was the color of life as it suggests brightness, happiness, and merriment
  • Yellow is the color of intellect and perception, and may be preferred by highly spiritual people
  • In ancient heraldry, yellow or gold symbolism represents honor and loyalty
  • The term "yellow journalism" (sensationalism in the news) began when a New York newspaper ran an experiment in color, printing the "Yellow Kid" in a cartoon
  • Because it is the most visible color in the spectrum and therefore in a pointed position, yellow is related abstractly to the inverted triangle.


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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