Can Colors Affect Your Mood?
Colors can affect your moods. At least that’s what a recent article published in the Feb. 8, 2010 issue of BMC Medical Research Methodology claims. They might be on to something. Years ago, other studies said the color pink had a calming effect on prisoners. However, the idea never seems to have caught on with some of the more upscale, high class penal institutions.
But seriously, let’s look at the concept a little closer. Here are a few phrases often heard, but one rarely thinks about what inspired them. Colors did in many instances. When someone is feeling good and upbeat, they’re “In the pink.” The opposite of that would be a “blue funk.”
The article went on to explain colors are a useful tool in determining a patient’s mood when they have communication problems. It was found those who were in depression tended to choose the color grey while those in good spirits picked yellow.
So it’s obvious colors are frequently used to describe how we feel. But, up until quite recently, no one had done any exhaustive research on color association. A group of physicians were about to change all that. They selected eight colors: red, orange, green, purple, blue, yellow, pink and brown. Next, they added black and white in the same fashion and made a 38 color wheel.
Then, they chose three focus groups averaging about 100 each to test the theory. The groups consisted of healthy, anxious and depressed adults. Later,another group of about 200 healthy volunteers classified each color as positive, negative or neutral.
The results revealed some interesting information. Shades of colors seemed to play the most important part. For example, a light blue conveyed a happy mood, while dark blue indicated a poor one. Yellow was consistent with happy and upbeat. Depressed, anxious and healthy people in the test all liked blue and yellow, with the shade of blue being the determining factor. Yellow was picked as the most eye catching.
So how can we use such information other than as a medical diagnostic tool? Artists and interior decorators have been utilizing the concept for quite a while. They discovered color has a tremendous impact on moods and emotions. In some cases it can signal action, cause physiological reactions, raise blood pressure and metabolism, or cause eye strain.
Of course, feelings about color can vary with different cultures. For example, white in many Western societies, represents purity and innocence. On the other hand, in many Eastern countries, it’s a symbol of mourning.
It was in 1666 when English scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, discovered pure white light passed through a prism refracted it into all visible colors. He also found mixing different colored lights could produce various other colors. For example, red mixed with yellow creates orange. However, mixing colors, such as yellow and purple, canceled each other out and produced white.
Some colors have universal meaning. Red, orange and yellow are known as warm colors and can induce feelings ranging from comfort to anger. Blue, purple and green are known as cool colors and evoke calmness, but can also make one feel sad.
It is interesting to note, ancient Egyptians and Chinese used colors in healing techniques. Today, this is known as chromotherapy or light therapy and is still being used by some alternative medicine and holistic practitioners.
In this treatment:
Red: stimulates body, mind and increases circulation.
Yellow: Thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
Orange: Used in healing lungs and increase energy levels.
Blue: Believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
Indigo: Thought to alleviate skin problems.
Many psychologists view this therapy with skepticism, pointing out the effects of color are exaggerated. In addition, some research has shown mood-altering effects of color to be temporary. Initially a blue colored room may cause feelings of calm, but dissipate a short time later.
Other studies, however, have demonstrated some colors affect performance in certain areas. For instance, students exposed to red before an exam performed poorly. On the opposite extreme, red caused others on the athletic field to exhibit greater speed and strength.