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Yellow Color Psychology

Updated on September 1, 2017
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

Color
General Appearance
Mental Associations
Direct Associations
Objective Impressions
Subjective Impressions
Yellow
Sunny, incandescent, radiant
Sunlight
Caution
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
Divatex Home Fashions Royal Opulence Satin Queen Sheet Set, Gold
Divatex Home Fashions Royal Opulence Satin Queen Sheet Set, 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.


Resources

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

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

http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone/pantone.aspx?pg=20634&ca=10

http://printmediacentr.com/2011/02/infographic-the-psychology-of-color-for-web-design/

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    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank so much, Missy Mac! I appreciate the lovely comment! :^)

    • Missy Mac profile image

      Missy Mac 5 years ago from Illinois

      Yellow and pink are my favorite colors. I was naturally drawn to your article. Thanks for the informative article!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Unknownspy, thanks! Yellow does have wonderful cheery-making properties. :^)

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Yellow is such a vibrant color.. sunshine..very cheery. love this!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, Mary! That's the tree outside my office window. I love that tree and it really brightens my day.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      One of my favorite kitchens was yellow. It is such a happy color. The tree in your photo is beautiful.

      Colors are interesting. They do affect our moods, I think.

      I voted this Hub UP, etc.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Ooh, great idea, Doc! May I? Great to see you and thanks for stopping by. :^)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Great discourse on yellow Rachel. There is so much rich info in this series I 'll have to go and read the other colors. A very clever idea for a hub series. I thought you'd have added Coldplay's' Yellow' song as the icing on this cake.. well done!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Steph! I really enjoyed this series. I learned so much just from writing the hub! Best to you and thanks again, R

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      This is so awesome! I'm going to go back and read your other color hubs. My favorite color is purple, so I cannot wait to read that one. All the best, Steph

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much! I was working on black and white ones too, but got sidetracked by some other topics. Hopefully I can catch up this weekend. :^)

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Rachel (theclevercat),

      You've written such a great series. I've haven't read a lot about color psychology and color theory since my college days. I've been enjoying revisiting the subject through your articles.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you, teaches! Next up, purple! :^)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I voted this one up due to its very interesting, well done and presented content. Yellow is joyful and love your sharing on how it helps treat disease.