No doubt, people have known about the effects of color on human behavior and health for thousands of years. Nonetheless, the modern western world saw a boom of interest back in 1982, when Harry Wohlfarth and Catherine Sam released an astounding study. They found that the colors and lighting in an environment significantly affected “neurochemical and hormonal changes,” both in normal and blind children.
The brighter and busier the color spectrum was, the more aggressive the kids’ behavior. Conversely, the kids had lower blood pressure and were more relaxed in a room with “cooler” colors. That blind children were equally affected supports the view that it’s not just what we sense with our eyes, but the vibration of light and color that stimulates us even at very cellular level.
Here are a few studies and existing research that found that color can impact people in a variety of surprising ways:
- One study found that warm-colored placebo pills were reported as more effective than cool-colored placebo pills.
- Anecdotal evidence has suggested that installing blue-colored streetlights can lead to reduced crime in those areas.
- More recently, researchers discovered that the color red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities.
- A study that looked at historical data found that sports teams dressed in mostly black uniforms are more likely to receive penalties and that students were more likely to associate negative qualities with a player wearing a black uniform.
Color Can Influence Performance
Studies have also shown that certain colors can have an impact on performance. No one likes to see a graded test covered in red ink, but one study found that seeing the color red before taking an exam actually hurt test performance. While the color red is often described as threatening, arousing or exciting, many previous studies on the impact of the color red have been largely inconclusive. The study found, however, that exposing students to the color red prior to an exam has been shown to have a negative impact on test performance.
In the first of the six experiments described in the study, 71 U.S. colleges students were presented with a participant number colored either red, green or black prior to taking a five-minute test. The results revealed that students who were presented with the red number before taking the test scored more than 20 percent lower than those presented with the green and black numbers
Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the color blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists and interior designers have long believed that color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions," the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked.
Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions.
Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.
As you’re creating the environment where you live, work, play, heal, practice, eat, etc., understand why you might be drawn to some colors. Choose colors according to the activities in the room. Wear colors that express your excellent mood, help to lift you up, or enhance the impression you need to make.