The Psychology Of Color


“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” - Pablo Picasso

In “The Effects Of Environmental Color", Jennifer Etnier and Charles Hardy write that “it has been suggested that the appropriate use of color can enhance the overall quality of the environment and, thus, influence behavior. Many prisons, hospitals, companies, and schools have adopted systematic color schemes which have been designed to produce particular performance states in their inhabitants.”

So, the colors you choose to put in your home really do matter. Or do they? Many argue that not enough research has been done on the topic of color psychology to draw conclusions. Yet in a recent article on Color Theory In Architecture published on,  Georgann Yara suggests that color “can be just as important to the overall look and comfort of your living space as all the of the shapes and angles that compose it.”
Think about it. Do you feel calm and relaxed in a blue room? Does an orange or red room make you feel warm or passionate? Artists and interior designers have long theorized that color can affect moods, feelings, and emotions.

Frank H. Mahnke writes in “Color is an integral element of our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made architectural environment. The goals of color design in an architectural space are not relegated to decoration alone.”

In other words, how and where you choose to use color is just as important as the color you choose. For example,  a classroom has a different function than a hospital patient room; an office space is different than a kitchen.

Some examples concerning colors and what they convey from Mahnke’s article:
- Pastel yellow gives the impression of sunny, friendly, soft. The message in the interior space is stimulating, brightness, coziness.
- Red is arousing, passionate, provocative, fiery, aggressive. The message in the interior is aggressive, advancing, dominant.
- Green is balancing, natural, calm with the message of simplicity, security, balance.
- White expresses open, vast, neutral, sterile. The message being purity, sterile, emptiness, indecisiveness.

Of the research that has been done recently on color psychology. Wikipedia reports:
- One study found that warm-colored placebo pills were reported as more effective than cool-colored placebo pills.

- Anecdotal evidence has suggested that installing blue-colored streetlights can lead to a reduction of crime in those areas.

- The temperature of the environment might play a role in color preference. People who are warm tend to list cool colors as their favorites, while people who are cold prefer warmer colors.

- Studies have also shown that exposing students to the color red prior to an exam has been shown to have a negative impact on test performance.

But, researchers also learned that red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities.

One study that looked at historical data found that sports teams dressed in mostly black uniforms are more likely to receive penalties and that students were more likely to associate negative qualities with a player wearing a black uniform.

The bottom line? Whatever effects color may have on “how we feel and act are subject to personal, cultural and situational factors.”

That being said, Pantone, the color institute, recently released its Home & Interior colors for 2014. They range from dynamic Emerald, warm orange Exuberance, Dark Citron, and Majolica Blue to more soft and subtle earth tones and pastels. Basically – there is something for everyone. Just remember – light (both natural and artificial) has an effect on the color you use as well. Consult your designer or architect for more information.

The OMNIA Group Architects bring talent, experience and exceptional customer service to every residential and commercial project. We call it Creativity Delivered. Our clients – in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and throughout the country – call it the perfect solution to their architectural needs. Our goal is to create home and work environments that make your life easier, more productive and more enjoyable.

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