How Colors Affect You

There are four psychological primary colours - red, blue, yellow and green.They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essentialbalance between these three. The psychological properties of the elevenbasic colours are as follows


    RED. Physical

    Positive: This color is a warm and positive color associated with our most physical needsand our will to survive. It exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy. Red is energizing.It excites the emotions and motivates us to take action.

    Negative: Defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain.

    Red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property ofappearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence itseffectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raisesthe pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to themasculine principle and can activate the "fight or flight" instinct. Red is strong, and verybasic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, veryfriendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.


    BLUE. Intellectual.

    Positive: Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness,reflection, calm.

    Negative: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness.

    Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather thanthe physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter,soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentallycalming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close tous as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the


    YELLOW. Emotional

    Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness,creativity.

    Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.

    The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulusis emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will liftour spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it,or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem toplummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our "yellow streak" can surface.


    GREEN. Balance

    Positive: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance,environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace.

    Negative: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation.

    Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore,restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance - a more importantconcept than many people realise. When the world about us contains plenty of green, thisindicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green,on a primitive level. Negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used, will beperceived as being too bland.


    VIOLET. Spiritual

    Positive: Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality.

    Negative: Introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority.

    The shortest wavelength is violet, often described as purple. It takes awareness to a higherlevel of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introvertive and encouragesdeep contemplation, or meditation. It has associations with royalty and usuallycommunicates the finest possible quality. Being the last visible wavelength before theultra-violet ray, it has associations with time and space and the cosmos. Excessive use ofpurple can bring about too much introspection and the wrong tone of it communicatessomething cheap and nasty, faster than any other colour.


    Positive: Physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun.

    Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity.

    Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating and reaction to it is acombination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physicalcomfort - food, warmth, shelter etc. - and sensuality. It is a 'fun' colour. Negatively, it mightfocus on the exact opposite - deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange isused with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectualvalues.



    Positive: Physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species.

    Negative: Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness.

  • Being a tint of red, pink also affects us physically, but it soothes, rather than stimulates.(Interestingly, red is the only colour that has an entirely separate name for its tints. Tints of blue,green, yellow, etc. are simply called light blue, light green, etc.) Pink is a powerful colour,psychologically. It represents the feminine principle, and survival of the species; it is nurturing andphysically soothing. Too much pink is physically draining and can be somewhat emasculating.



    Positive: Psychological neutrality.

    Negative: Lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy.

    Pure gray is the only colour that has no direct psychological properties. It is, however, quitesuppressive. A virtual absence of colour is depressing and when the world turns gray we areinstinctively conditioned to draw in and prepare for hibernation. Unless the precise tone is right,gray has a dampening effect on other colours used with it. Heavy use of gray usually indicates alack of confidence and fear of exposure.



    Positive: Sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance.

    Negative: Oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness.

    Black is all colours, totally absorbed. The psychological implications of that are considerable. Itcreates protective barriers, as it absorbs all the energy coming towards you, and it enshrouds thepersonality. Black is essentially an absence of light, since no wavelengths are reflected and it can,therefore be menacing; many people are afraid of the dark. Positively, it communicates absoluteclarity, with no fine nuances. It communicates sophistication and uncompromising excellence andit works particularly well with white. Black creates a perception of weight and seriousness.It is a myth that black clothes are slimming.



    Positive: Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency.

    Negative: Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism.

    Just as black is total absorption, so white is total reflection. In effect, it reflects the full force of thespectrum into our eyes. Thus it also creates barriers, but differently from black, and it is often astrain to look at. It communicates, "Touch me not!" White is purity and, like black, uncompromising;it is clean, hygienic, and sterile. The concept of sterility can also be negative. Visually, whitegives a heightened perception of space. The negative effect of white on warm colours is to makethem look and feel garish.



    Positive: Seriousness, warmth, Nature, earthiness, reliability, support.

    Negative: Lack of humour, heaviness, lack of sophistication.

    Brown usually consists of red and yellow, with a large percentage of black. Consequently, it hasmuch of the same seriousness as black, but is warmer and softer. It has elements of the red andyellow properties. Brown has associations with the earth and the natural world. It is a solid,reliable colour and most people find it quietly supportive - more positively than the ever-popularblack, which is suppressive, rather than supportive.



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