Colour psychology is a well-known concept; however, it has been less explored in terms of the study of how our brain perceives what our eyes see. Obviously there is a lack of proof for this as far as scientific research goes – considering there isn’t really much to work with.
The four main psychological primary colours are red, blue, yellow and green. Simply stated, colour is broken down white light. This is a dissection of light at different wavelengths which each is perceived as a separate colour. They relate to the body, mind, emotions and the balance that is between – each colour can also be perceived in a positive or negative way. The psychological properties of the basic colours are as follows:
Red is a powerful and prominent colour. It holds the property of appearing to be closer than it actually is, meaning it’s more likely to grab your attention first – hence its effectiveness in stop signs or traffic lights. This vivid colour actually has a physical effect on our bodies which stimulates the pulse rate. Red gives us impressions of physical courage, strength, warmth and energy. At the same time, however, it also implies the negative connotations of defiance and strain and can be perceived as demanding and aggressive. If your job includes physical activity, it may mean that red is perfect as your maximum productivity colour since it has been shown to increase the heart rate, blood flow and evokes passion.
Green is usually associated with natural elements, harmony and balance. It catches the eye in such a way that it requires no adjustment and is therefore deemed as a restful colour. A very under-rated concept is that green is the colour of balance due to its central place in the spectrum – as the world around us is filled with green it represents the presence of water and indicates little danger of famine. In this way, we also see green as a reassuring colour on an instinctive level. Green is an effective colour for anyone who works long hours staring at a screen – it doesn’t cause eye fatigue and enables you to remain calm.
Blue is mainly recognised as an intellectual colour; it is seen as the colour of the mind and is effectively soothing. In contrast to the physical reaction we have to red, blue is serene and mentally calming. Strong blues may stimulate clear thoughts while lighter, softer blues may calm the mind and create a sense of clear communication. Despite blue being shown as the most popular colour throughout the world in many pieces of research, it can be perceived as unemotional, unfriendly and cold. Blue is excellent for maximising productivity. It is stable and calming; meaning it helps a worker to focus on their task more easily.
The colour yellow is essentially stimulating. In terms of the colour yellow, the stimulus is emotional – making yellow the strongest colour for impacting how we feel. The right tone of yellow will lift our spirits and self-esteem; being the colour of confidence and optimism. If the yellow in question doesn’t work in relation to the colour scheme it is within, or there is too much yellow in view, it may cause self-esteem to drop significantly – rising fear and anxiety. In terms of a business environment, yellow is known to be an optimistic colour and can help to influence creativity. This means it is most effective for job roles such as designers or people who are required to be creative.
Knowing colour psychology is proven useful in terms of the workplace. It can enable us to decorate our office/ place of work with a colour that suits the job we’re doing which is effective in rising productivity levels. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to colours – we all have our own perception of them, so painting the entire office yellow may not be effective. To increase productivity, perhaps get an individual opinion from each employee and consider how useful it would be to decorate their desk space with that colour. I mean, someone creative isn’t going to benefit from complete blackness around them, but maybe incorporating black and yellow within their office would prove as efficient for creativity and the right level of seriousness.
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