How Colors Affect Your Mood
Color Through the Years
A universal language
by Hannah Belleville
As our world has come to depend on technology more, our dependence on color has greatly increased. Even though there are disputes as to the extent color has on us and whether it is in the mind or body, one thing is sure: humans have an innate reaction to color. Color influences our mood because of the social and cultural associations we have with it as well as the personal associations that each of us have formed. Whether we realize it or not color affects the way we feel and act. Some colors have the ability to affect blood pressure, while others are believed to have healing powers in alternative medicine.
Color has been a critical part of humanity since the beginning of the cavemen. In cave paintings the color red, an earth color, meaning it can be found in the soil, is seen frequently as a sign of hunting, protection, fertility, and danger. The color red is believed to have been the first color perceived by man, which makes sense that nowadays people with brain injuries and temporary color blindness begin to see red first. Ancient warriors used to paint themselves in red blood for its believed protective powers. A red rose also symbolizes love and fidelity. However, not all of the associations with red are good. “Making red” in medieval times, means to kill someone and “red affairs” means evil doings. The physiological conclusion drawn from red is that it raises one’s pulse and is a stimulating color.
In contrast, blue, a color that could only be extracted from mining in ancient times and therefore is not an earth color, symbolizes everything calm, cool, and collected. Blue has been proven to slow one’s heart rate and in turn is a depressant. This is where the term “I’m feeling blue” comes from.
Sir Isaac Newton, in 1666, was the first to discover that when white light, such as the light coming from a light bulb or the sun, passes through a prism, the colors that make up white light separate out. He also discovered that each of these colors has their own wavelength and cannot be separated any further. Newton found that when certain colors are mixed they create a new color, however when others are mixed they cancel eachother out forming white light.
- Red: bright, warm, evokes strong emotions, love, warmth, comfort, intensity, anger, excitement
- Blue: masculine, non-threatening, calm, serenity, sterility, reliability, sadness, aloofness, least appetizing, lower pulse
- Green: nature, tranquility, good luck, health, jealousy, can improve reading ability, fertility (color choice of wedding gowns in the 15th century), calming effect, stress reliever
- Pink: love, romance, calming effect, feminine, softness, kindness, nurturing, compassion
- Yellow: cheery, warm, fatiguing to the eye because of the high amount of light reflected, frustration, anger, increase metabolism, most attention-grabbing color
- Orange: combination of yellow and red, energetic color, controversial color, excitement, enthusiasm, warmth, attention grabbing, beauty, refreshing, autumn, Halloween (U.S.)
- Purple: not the same thing as violet, combination of red and blue, royalty, wealth, wisdom, spirituality, exotic, artificial, strongest electromagnetic wavelength, used in illusions
- White: purity, innocence, create a sense of space, cold, bland, sterile, cleanliness, freshness, simplicity, fresh start, stark, isolated, boring, bland
- Black: absorbs all light in color spectrum, menace, evil, power, witchcraft, death, mourning, unhappiness, sexuality, formality, sophistication, life and rebirth (ancient Egypt), slimming quality in fashion
- Brown: earthy, neutral, strength, reliability, resilience, dependability,
Humanity’s attention to color for centuries has created chromotherapy, a therapy that uses colors to heal a person. The first users of this alternative medicine were the ancient Chinese and ancient Egyptians. While it continues to be used today as a means for healing, there is not enough psychological research to form a basis of information. There is discrepancy between Chromotherapists and doctors as to whether or not it works, as well as variance within the chromotherapy community. While some believe the effects of the alternative medicine to be psychological, physiological, or both.