Color: Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology
Our reaction to color is instantaneous and this lens is a quick look at general responses based on research, historical significance of color and word association studies.
I have also included links to color personality tests that may give you some insight into your own color associations as well as how you react to different colors.
Blue is the overwhelming "favorite color." Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed. The color of sky and the ocean, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives.
As the collective color of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming; however not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic, an engaging color that expresses exhilaration.
Some shades or the overuse of blue may come across as cold or uncaring. Blue is the least "gender specific" color, having equal appeal to both men and women.
How the color blue affects us physically and mentally
* Calming and sedate
* Aids intuition
Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye and is second only to blue as a favorite color. Green is the pervasive color in the natural world that is an ideal backdrop in interior design because we are so used to seeing it everywhere.
The natural greens, from forest to lime, are seen as tranquil and refreshing, with a natural balance of cool and warm (blue and yellow) undertones. Green is considered the color of peace and ecology. However, there is an "institutional" side to green, associated with illness or Government-issued that conjure up negative emotions as do the "slimy" or bilious greens.
How the color green affects us physically and mentally
* Relaxing mentally as well as physically
* Helps alleviate depression, nervousness and anxiety
* Offers a sense of renewal, self-control and harmony
Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors and instill optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts.
How the color yellow affects us mentally and physically
* mentally stimulating
* Stimulates the nervous system
* Activates memory
* Encourages communication
Orange, a close relative of red, sparks more controversy than any other hue. There is usually strong positive or negative association to orange and true orange generally elicits a stronger "love it" or "hate it" response than other colors. Fun and flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy. Interestingly, some of the tones of orange such as terra cotta, peach or rust have very broad appeal.
How the color orange affects us mentally and physically
* Stimulates activity
* Stimulates appetite
* Encourages socialization
Red has more personal associations than any other color. Recognized as a stimulant red is inherently exciting and the amount of red is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.
How the color red affects us mentally and physically
* Increases enthusiasm
* Stimulates energy
* Encourages action and confidence
* A sense of protection from fears and anxiety
Purple embodies the balance of red simulation and blue calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone. A sense of mystic and royal qualities, purple is a color often well liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favorite color of adolescent girls.
How the color purple affects us mentally and physically
* Calming to mind and nerves
* Offers a sense of spirituality
* Encourages creativity
Brown says stability, reliability, and approachability. It is the color of our earth and is associated with all things natural or organic.
How the color brown affects us physically and mentally
* Feeling of wholesomeness
* Connection with the earth
* Offers a sense orderliness
White projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. Doctors don white coats, brides traditionally were white gowns and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.
How the color white affects us mentally and physically
* aids mental clarity
* encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles
* evokes purification of thoughts or actions
* enables fresh beginnings
Black is authoritative and powerful; because black can evoke strong emotions too much can be overwhelming. A classic color for clothing possibly because it makes the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.
How the color black affects us physically and mentally
* feeling inconspicuous
* a restful emptiness
* mysterious evoking a sense of potential and possibility
Color and personality traits have a closer relationship than we think. Just as our personalities are continually evolving, the colors we prefer also change through our experiences, environment, age, and sex.
For example, women are more aware of certain shades and preferred to blue while men prefer blue to red. Elderly people prefer lighter tones over darker ones. People with schizophrenia tend to prefer neutral hues such as white, black, brown, and gray. People with bipolar disorder tend to prefer chromatic hues such as red, yellow, green and blue.
People have different tastes regarding the spectrum of colors, and this can actually tell us something about who they are, or how they are feeling on a particular day. In fact changes throughout your life can/will cause you to change the preferences of your likes and dislikes, which is just as well since the same old thing every day would become boring. So, as you get older and more mature, you will find that you like different shades, flavors, and even scents. This is neither good nor bad; it just means you are changing in some way.
All right, now think of your favorite color (don't let the above introduction sway your thinking; as though you can help it, but try) and read the descriptions below.
Like: This is rarely chosen as a favorite color because it is actually the negation of color. The person who chooses black may have a number of conflicting attitudes. You may be conventional, conservative and serious, or you may like to think of yourself as rather worldly or sophisticated, a cut above everyone else or very dignified.
Dislike: Since black is the negation of color, it may be a total negative to you. It is the eternal mystery, the bottomless pit, the black hole. You are uncomfortable with the super-sophisticated and feel insecure in their company. You like real people and are not dazzled by dignitaries.
Like: The color of tranquility and peace, blue tends to be the most preferred color universally. Although cool and confident (or wishing to be), blues can be vulnerable.
Dislike: A dislike of blue may mean restlessness--a need to break away from the sameness that bores you. Perhaps you would like to change your job, or even your life, and long for more excitement.
Like: The color of Mother Earth is the hue that is associated with substance and stability. A preference for brown means you have a steady, reliable character with a keen sense of duty and responsibility. Family life is very important to you.
Dislike: You probably fantasize about a lot of things, perhaps traveling with a circus or racing cars. Novelty excites you and routine drives you crazy.
Like: People who prefer this most neutral of all shades are carefully neutral about life. You like to protect yourself from the hectic world, wrapping yourself with the security blanket of a noncommittal color. You are the middle-of-the-road type, cool, conservative, composed and reliable.
Dislike: To dislike gray is to dislike neutrality. You would rather be right or wrong, but never indifferent. Routine bores you. You look for a richer, fuller life.
Like: Nature's most plentiful color promises a balance between warmth and coolness, so green people are usually stable and balanced types. This is the good citizen, concerned parent, involved neighbor and PTA member--the joiner of clubs and organizations. You are fastidious, kind and generous.
Dislike: Since lovers of green are usually very social, joiners and "keep up with the Joneses" types, dislikes of green will often put those qualities down. You may have an unfulfilled need to be recognized that causes you to pull away from people rather than join them. Yours is a no-nonsense approach to life. You don't like others to be coy with you--you would rather they be direct. Nostalgia is not your thing; you live in the present.
Like: Orange is a combination of red and yellow, so it takes on many of the characteristics of both colors. It is vibrant and warm, like the autumn leaves. Orange has the physical force of red, but it is less intense, less passionate. Lovers of this color work and play hard are adventurous and enthusiastic.
Dislike: Life is definitely not a dish of gumdrops for the rejecter of orange. Nothing flamboyant appeals to you. You dislike too much partying, hilarity, loud laughter, showing off and obvious intimacy. As a result, you may be difficult to get to know, if not a loner.
Like: This is a softened red, so it tempers passion with purity. It is associated with romance, sweetness, delicacy, refinement and tenderness. Pink people are interested in the world around them, but they do not throw themselves into participating with the ardor of the red person. Violence in any form is upsetting to you.
Dislike: Soft, medium tints do not evoke much emotion--many people are indifferent to pink. It is sweetness, innocence and naiveté--red with the passion removed.
Like: This hue has an aura of mystery and intrigue. The purple person is enigmatic and highly creative, with a quick perception of spiritual ideas. Purple is often preferred by artists. People who like to consider them different from the common herd or unconventional often prefer purple.
Dislike: If you dislike purple, you probably have no desire to be artistic or creative. You feel that purple represents snobbery, falseness, exaggeration and vanity. You pride yourself on your sincerity and genius, and sometimes misjudge others because you do not like them or approve of them.
Like: Just as red sits on top of the rainbow, you like to stay on top of things. You have a zest for life. Remember that red can speed up the pulse, increase the respiration rate and raise blood pressure. It is associated with fire, heat, and blood, so it is impossible to ignore. And so are you (or would like to be).
The key words associated with red are winner, achiever, intense, impulsive, active, competitive, daring, aggressive and passionate. Red people are exciting, animated, optimistic, emotional and extroverted. Desire is the key word; they hunger for fullness of experience and living.
Dislike: Since red is primarily associated with a zest for life, excitement and passion, a dislike of this hue could mean that these feelings are a bit much for you to handle at this point in your life. Perhaps you are bothered by the aggressiveness and intensity that red signifies.
Like: White is cleanliness and purity, and those who prefer white are neat and immaculate in their clothing and homes. You are inclined to be a cautious buyer and shrewd trader, but critical and fussy.
Dislike: Since white represents cleanliness and purity, to dislike white does not exactly mean that you are a messy person, but it does mean that you have never been obsessed with order. You are not very fussy. Things that are a little off-center are much more interesting to you than those that are perfectly in line.
Like: Yellow is luminous and warm because it is strongly associated with sunshine. It sparkles with optimistic activity. Yellow people are highly original, imaginative, idealistic, creative, artistic and often spiritual.
Dislike: If you dislike yellow, you usually dislike the qualities that this luminous color has. You are a realist--a practical, down-to-earth person and probably critical of others who are not.
cyan: it is the main color of windows.
Color is the perception of varying wavelengths of visible light hitting your retina which then signals the visual cortex.
Longer wavelengths (e.g. 750 nm tend toward the red end of what humans can perceive. Shorter wavelengths (e.g. 400 nm) tend towards the violet end of the visible light spectrum. Wavelengths in between 400 nm and 750 nm are perceived as different colors with names humans have and will give to them.
How one 'feels' about colors happens between one's ears and is as subjective as are the names humans give to different wavelengths.
Question: if one can eat an Orange (fruit), why can't one eat a Blue (i.e. Blue berry)?
There is a nice Horizon prog on my site entitled 'Do you see what I see'. It deals with colour perception in a bit of depth. Worth a look....
Color is very subjective. Green for me can be olive green for someone else and a third one says it’s lemon green and then we aren’t discussing mixed colors like brown or rich black.
For brands color is a crucial part of the identity:
A brand is not only a logo in a certain color. No, companies see their brand as their identity. Countries have a flag which they pay tribute to, well a brand is the flag of a corporation. The indentity of the brand needs to be protected in the way the brand is received by not only customers and users but by the complete population. This goes further then the logo, the products itself and the lifestyle they represent needs to be right.
Think Ferrari, it’s red. The Nike swoosh is not only an logo, it let people think about challenges and victories.
Color with many many faces.
Scientific/Physical -> EMW/wavelenght/engery
Biological -> Human eyes/animal eyes(sensors)
Chemical -> Generation of color
Objective/Mathematical/Computational -> CIE-lab sysem
and many many.
I believe no one in the would know and can handle all aspects of color/colour.
If you know one, please kindly let me know. Thank You.
Have a good day.