By Eric Pastorek
What is your favorite color and how do you think it effects you? This is the question that’s asked by many wanting to find out how to use color to communicate to people. There are many different people with many different answers. It is fascinating that the reaction a person has to sight affects other parts of the brain, thus individual parts of the brain do not work independently from one another. Individual areas function together as a whole to contribute to the decisions a person may make. For example, when driving down the road a person may see a billboard for a restaurant. The colors that a restaurant may use may entice a viewer to become hungry causing him or her to pull off at the next exit to eat. However, the colors used could cause rejection of a product. Color is important in society, because it creates association, emotion, and reaction, and when used properly it can affect decision making.
Throughout history color has been used, perhaps unknowingly, as a way to assemble groups of people under one banner and to cause people to have certain emotions such as pride and patriotism. In a sporting game when a fan sees his or hers team colors, emotions well up for their team and cause devotion. Men and women differ somewhat in how color is viewed. In a study by Natalia Khouw in her book “The Meaning of Color for Gender”, she writes, ‘there was a difference, with women preferring soft colors and men preferring bright ones” (O’Leary). Age and culture may also affect how a person views color. Color psychology is a field of study devoted to analyzing the effect of color on human behavior and feelings, not to be confused with color symbolism (Wikipedia).
Psychologists today are studying in great depth the effects that different colors have on people. For example, the color Pastorek 2 red is found in studies to ‘increase bodily tension and stimulate the autonomic nervous system, while “cool” hues. . . [such as blue]. . . release tension’ (Wikipedia). Interestingly, one shade over, the color pink, or ‘drunk tank pink,’ a bubble gum color used to calm violent prisoners, has an interesting effect. In studies of angry and aggressive inmates, Dr. Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma Washington, reports, ‘Even if a person tries to be angry or aggressive in the presence of pink, he can’t. The heart muscles can’t race fast enough. It’s a tranquilizing color that saps your energy. . .’ (Color Matters).
Similarly, there is a spectrum of effects from different colors among humans and animals. Most consumers aren’t aware of the psychology behind the use of color schemes among corporations. When money is a large factor, time is too. In an article about studies that show how corporations, such as McDonald’s, use color strategically. It says, ‘Even the color scheme used by McDonald’s promotes speed. Studies show that loud colors like red and yellow increase customer turnover’ (Gipson).
The use of color can also be instrumental to the success of a company. It would not be profitable to have people sitting in a restaurant for two hours when there are potential costumers that have no where to sit. Motivating them in and then motivating them out is profitable. It is still early in this field of study to tell for sure how color affects people. There are many factors to consider in the study of color psychology, that is why it’s not very well known. This psychology is not proven to be viable for helping for certain mental diseases. One thing is for sure, color psychology is a promising field yielding many new findings on how people are affected by color.
Color Matters. ‘Drunk Tank Pink.’ Find Articles on the Web. 13 September. 2006.
Gipson, William. ‘McDonald’s and Fox’s Diner.’ Find Articles on the Web. 13 September. 2006.
O’Leary, Tom. ‘The Psychology of Color in Messages.’ Find Articles on the Web. September 2006 28 September. 2005.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. ‘Color psychology.’ Find Articles on the Web. September 2006. 13 September. 2006.
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