Color and Emotions

By Tess Thompson

Color has always played a significant role in non-verbal communication. Over the years, different colors have been associated with different aspects, events, and occurrences, and therefore aroused specific emotions in us. The kind of emotion that a color stirs in us is dependent on our culture, environment, and learning, and therefore differs from one individual to another.

During the initial period of human evolution, the only pigments that were easily available were black, red and white. These were associated with night, blood, and bone. Over time, as man advanced and attained the ability to produce more stable pigments, various colors came to be associated with different types of emotions. These colors were also used to communicate different things. With time, the association of color became a handy tool in the hand of marketers to attract attention of different segments of society. Today, colors are increasingly used to make an impact on a target audience.

There has been a significant debate over the classification of emotions and theories of the psychological connection. The association between colors, physical reactions, and emotional feelings has been subject matter of many studies and researches.

Darwin argued that emotions are a secondary phenomenon and are a byproduct of another phenomenon, which he termed functional associated habits. This theory gave a cultural bias to emotions, which led to a series of research on the connection between emotions and cultures. Similarly, colors have evolutionary and cultural connotations. In most of the Western world, white is a color for weddings, while in many Eastern cultures, it is the color of mourning and death. However, some colors have universal meanings. Green is generally the color of nature, while yellow denotes sunshine, orange is fun, violet is considered to be a passionate color, and universally, red stands for love.

On the same lines, an individual preference for a color is understood to be an indicator of the personality of the person. People who like green are thought to be balanced and persistent, while those whose favorite color is red are perceived to be aggressive and impulsive.

There have also been studies over the medical uses of colors. It is being suggested that exposure to red activates the pituitary glands, which then signal the release of adrenaline. Cool fluorescent lighting provides a neutral and introspective mood and a semblance of emotional healing.

Whatever the connection between personality, colors, and cultural significance, colors are not only about mixing red, blue and green and giving them fancy names like robin egg blue, olive green and mushroom red. While individual color preference may be a matter of personal choice, certain colors do bring out specific physical and emotional responses. The way the eye responds to different colors suggests a strong scientific connection between colors and emotions.


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