Does color affect your mood? Psychologists
have said ‘Absolutely!” to that question for a very long time. The psychological
effects of color have such an underpinning in research that the findings of
chromology, the psychology of color, are
used in designing everything from hotel rooms to cereal packages. In one case
that made headlines recently, the psychology of color provoked a storm of
At the University
of Iowa, the visiting team’s locker
rooms are painted a soft, feminine pink. The lockers themselves are a dusty
rose, the showers have pink shower curtains, and even the urinals are of pink
porcelain. The color scheme is a long-standing and well-known tradition that
sparked fires of controversy recently when a female professor took exception
to the implied insult to women. According to history, though, the choice of
‘innocence pink’ had nothing to do with femininity. The color was chosen by
former Iowa football coach,
Hayden Fry, who had read that pink has a calming effect on people. And according
to Fry, it works – if not necessarily as intended. In his autobiography, A
High Porch Picnic, he writes, “When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and
he mentions the pink walls, I know I've got him. I can't recall a coach who
has stirred up a fuss about the color and then beat us."
Pink isn’t the only color that has clear psychological associations.
Over the years, researchers have worked to identify exactly what emotions
and physical effects are triggered by various colors. Despite the amount of
research done in the field and the widespread acceptance of many of its basic
theories, chromology is often viewed as an immature discipline, and chromatherapy
is seen as alternative medicine. Critics point out that color perception is
affected by cultural conditioning, and that color is not perceived alone but
in combination with other effects in the environment.
Despite all this, there are some generally recognized associations
between color and emotion. The chart below gives those associations and ways
in which that color is used.
Red increases the pulse and
heart rate, and raises your blood pressure. It increases the appetite by increasing
your metabolism, which is why red is such a popular color in restaurants.
It is active, aggressive and outspoken. One bank found that their lines moved
faster when they increased the use of red in the bank lobby, and in a study
of several hundred college students, a researcher found that they responded
more quickly to cues under red light than under green light.