The Psychology of Colour

There are four psychological primary colours – red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, the mind, and the emotions. Colour can quite simply make you feel a certain way. It can alter your mood, thus making you more calm or more excitable depending on the colours surrounding you. Understanding colour and how to surround yourself with the colours best suited to you, both in your clothes and your home, can and will make a huge difference to the way you feel.

Everywhere we go we are influenced by colour. It can affect you through the clothes we wear, the purchases we make, interior design, even the food we eat. Colour not only determines the palatability of food, but also everything in the eater’s field of vision can affect this. The colour of dining areas is therefore very important.

When choosing a colour for your home, be aware of what activity you do most in each room. For example your bedroom needs to be a serene, calm colour to be conducive to rest. Blues, neutrals, light greens work best in calm environments. Painting a room red would, on one hand create a cosy atmosphere but could also be too stimulating.

In psychological terms, the positive energies of red are physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, ‘fight or flight’, stimulation, masculinity, and excitement.  Their negative energies are defiance, aggression and strain.

It also depends on the individuals that use the room. That is why colour is so personal. Blue may make one person feel calm and content and to another it may make them feel aloof, emotionless and cold. Some research has concluded that women and men respectively prefer ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colours.

Blue is the colour of trust and peace. Its positives are loyalty and integrity, intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm. Its negatives are coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion and unfriendliness.

Interestingly in 2000, Glasgow installed blue street lighting in certain neighbourhoods and subsequently reported findings of reduced crime in these areas.

The two other primary colours yellow and green emote other interesting positives and negatives.

Yellow is defined as emotional. Its positives are optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness and creativity and its negatives are irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, and anxiety.

Green is the colour of balance. Its positives are harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium and peace. Its negatives are apathy, stagnation, blandness and enervation.

Whilst you wouldn’t necessarily paint your home in a primary colour, the presence of these colours in tones makes a big difference. A white with a hint of yellow would induce a different feeling to one with more green. Look at the enormous spectrum of whites on the market! It’s also important to test colours with a variety of lights. You can obviously see the colour best in bright daylight so be sure to base your colour choice on a well-lit room. Position your lighting  (lamps, wall lights, etc.) well to enhance your wall colour.

‘Colour is the mother tongue of the subconscious’ – Carl Jung

With thanks to Emma Roberts