"Our reaction to color has a profound effect on the choices we make." ~ Kate Smith
The Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology of Color
Understanding how color shapes our world.
- by Kate Smith
Our reaction to color is instantaneous and has a profound effect on the choices we make. Here's a glimpse into the psychology behind the colors we choose and the reasons we find them so appealing.
When it comes to the color red, people stop and notice. Recognized as a stimulant, red is dynamic and exciting. We have more personal associations with red than with any other color. Decorating with red attracts attention and the amount of red used is directly related to the level of energy perceived. Using red strategically as an accent will focus attention on a particular element or area of a room. Feng shui recommends painting the front door of a home red to invite prosperity to the residents.
Orange is a color that really stands out, and people seem to love it or hate it. It’s a fun and flamboyant color that radiates warmth and energy. Orange is a versatile color that appears fun and trendy on a car but denotes caution and safety on the road.
Yellow promotes optimism, enlightenment and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors, instill optimism and energy and spark creative thoughts.
Green is considered the color of peace and ecology. It’s a tranquil and refreshing color with a natural balance of cool and warm undertones. Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye than most colors and is second only to blue as a favorite color. Green is one of the pervasive colors in the natural world, making it an ideal backdrop in interior design.
For most of us, blue is our favorite color. The least gender-specific color, it is equally appealing to both men and women. It suggests dependability, commitment and trust. Blue is a constant in our lives. The color of the ocean and sky, it is the collective color of the human spirit.
Blue comes in many shades that express a wide range of meanings. Electric or brilliant blues are dynamic, expressing exhilaration. Deeper blues, such as indigo, symbolize wisdom, self-mastery, profound insight and spiritual realization.
The color purple combines red’s stimulation with the calm of blue. This combination can cause unrest or uneasiness. Purple holds special meaning in many cultures around the world. It represents everything from bravery to mourning to royalty and privilege.
Pink is the color of happiness. Bright pink is youthful, lighthearted, fun and exciting. Combining the color red with the color white results in soft pink and is considered romantic. Pink blossoms are a favorite when giving or receiving flowers.
Brown is the color of our earth and is associated with most things natural or organic. The color brown represents stability, reliability and approachability.
The color gray represents knowledge. It is a classic and dignified color, suggesting authority. Somewhere between the colors black and white, gray is considered the color of compromise. It’s a perfect neutral, and designers often use gray as a background color.
Black is considered an authoritative and powerful color. It can evoke strong emotions, and too much can be overwhelming. Black represents a lack of color or emptiness. It’s a classic color for clothing and may make the wearer appear thinner and more sophisticated.
The color white projects purity, cleanliness and neutrality. Doctors usually wear white coats, brides traditionally wear white gowns and a white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.