I used to have a severe problem of mistaken identity when it came to the color of my bedroom walls. A slightly obsessive personality, I would latch onto a particular shade and demand our love affair to be splashed upon every surface I could paint.
Looking back, it’s not that I was truly in love with each new color, but more so the feeling of living within it. There was something about falling asleep wrapped in a sweet lemon yellow or waking up to an adventurous key lime that truly resonated as an influencer of my day.
Obviously, it’s no secret that color can evoke powerful responses from the human mind, but color psychology hasn’t always been as obvious to the scientific community as it was to me in my bedroom.
Sure, it may not boil down to exact facts and figures, but there’s definite reasoning behind how we as a culture almost universally attribute colors to particular feelings, moods, and images. It’s why female legislators wore white to Trump’s congressional address or why a certain kind of blue reminds you of your mother’s eyes.
The science behind these shades may be mostly subjective, but color can still act as a powerful force to channel your emotions and life perspectives.
R E D
It truly is the blood of angry men – often being attributed to ideas of power and dominance. Researchers at Durham University found that athletes wearing red won 60 percent more often than their opponents. Another study from the University of Rochester noted that men found women more attractive in red than in any other color.
Throughout my years, I’ve conducted my own study with what I like to call “The Red Dress Theory.” In the most iconic romantic comedies, there is almost always a singular scene where the leading lady becomes the leading lady in red. Whether it was Julia Roberts in her “Pretty Woman” red gown, Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face,” or Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind,” it is without fail the quintessential moment for her character.
Paint it on the walls of your office or wear it on a promising first date and you may just have a similar scene of your own.
B L U E
Like a glimmering ocean horizon or a fresh, cloudless sky, blue is meant to spark a sense of possibility. When researchers have studied the effects of blue colors in participants’ productivity, it almost always inspires people to exhibit more creativity and innovation.
Weirdly enough, it’s also the most popular color in the world across both men and women, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Maybe we’re all just seeking a little more creativity in our lives, but it can’t hurt to try out that kind of productivity power.
B L A C K
In today’s culture of racial politics, black as a color holds a lot of complex meaning tied to a history of cultural connotations: Black is beautiful. Black is bold. Black is meaningful. But most often, black is strength.
A famous Manet painting captures Berthe Morisot, one of the time period’s only successful female painters. While the portrait originally featured her green eyes, Manet decided to paint in almost all shades of black to capture Berthe’s sense of independence and autonomy. Using this idea of strength, black can be a very communicative color to relay your own message or meaning.
Y E L L O W
As one of the most obvious shades in color psychology, yellow is associated with feelings of happiness, contentment and a positive spirit. The famous cocktail party study illustrated these associations perfectly when partygoers in yellow rooms acted more socially than in rooms of other colors. (Incidentally, guests in the yellow room also happened to eat twice as much food.)
Running with this idea of yellow’s sunny spirit, take Beyonce. Her “Hold Up” music video imitated the golden attire of Oshun, goddess of luxury, prosperity, and life. If Queen B is trying to channel that kind of energy with a single color, you might as well try it too ;)
P I N K
Finally, pink is the color of a certain 16-going-on-17 Liesel and her famous “Sound of Music” frock – the color of naiveté and innocence. But even more so, pink represents a source of hope and assurance.
It holds the promise of springtime in nature or of health in a breast cancer ribbon. It calms the mind and restores ideas of peace, which is why one specific shade, Baker-Miller pink, has become many mental hospitals’ paint color of choice. Wear it in times of stress or anxiety, and see how its influence can change your headspace.
This kind of psychology may work for you, or it may not, as color ultimately signifies personal messages and meanings. Even so, the science behind it could make you see things differently, and there’s nothing wrong with looking at life through rose-colored glasses.