Psychology of Color

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Psychology Research Paper 1/23/11
The Psychology of Color
The brain receives signals from three different color channels: red, blue, and green. When the brain receives a mix of these signals, we perceive colors that are mixtures of these three primary colors through a process called color addition (Think Quest “Color Psychology”). All colored visible light can be expressed as either mixtures or consistencies of red, blue, or green, which by perception between the eyes and the brain, produces the vast spectrum of color that exists to humans and other organisms alike. With the ability to alter our moods and bodily functions, color has more of an impact on us than we may realize. Each color produces different effects on humans, bringing about numerous physiological and psychological changes as unique as the color itself. Its presence everywhere in our daily lives makes these effects inevitable, no matter how unaware we are of them. Colors not only alter the state of our mind and body but can also reveal a lot about ourselves, including our personality, experiences, and ability to evoke memories.

Colors can be categorized into two groups, warm colors and cool colors. Warm colors consist of any shade of red, orange, yellow, and pink. They can evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Cool colors consist of greens, blues, and purples. Although they generally create a calming, soothing effect, they can also bring feelings of sadness or indifference (Kendra Cherry “Color Psychology: How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings, and Behaviors”). Although each of the colors within these two groups produces altercations somewhat similar to those of its group members, they create their own objective, one-of-a-kind effects on the human body and mind.

Red is one of the three primary colors, as well as one of three different color channels the brain receives signals from. It represents blood, heat, passion, love, intensity, danger, and is often associated with Christmas and Valentine’s Day (Nicholson, Mary, Dr. “Colors and Moods”). Being a very stimulating color, whenever the sight of it is picked up and signaled to the brain, red activates the adrenal glands. Physiologically, red can increase heart rate, respiration, appetite, and blood pressure. It can also raise stamina and improve the functioning of the central nervous system (Kate Smith, “Color: Meaning, Symbolism, and Psychology”). The psychological effects of red include feelings of anger, vitality, and a sense of protection from fears and anxieties. Red can also increase enthusiasm, irritability, and sensuality. With its ability to dispel negative thoughts, it encourages confidence, action, and ambition (Think Quest). In a study by professor of psychology Andrew Elliot and researcher Daniela Niesta, it has been demonstrated that the color red makes men “feel more amorous towards women” (Science Daily “Red Enhances Men’s Attraction to Women, Psychological Study Reveals”). Even before the experiment, research provided both empirical and biological support to Elliot and Niesta’s claim. Empirically, red has been associated with romantic love and passions across cultures and the millennia. Biologically, they found faith in humans’ deep evolutionary roots to primates. Research has shown that “nonhuman male primates are particularly attracted to females displaying red. Female baboons and chimpanzees, for example, redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal designed to attract males” (Science Daily). The study looked at men’s responses to photographs of women under various color presentations. In one experiment, subjects were shown a photograph of a woman framed by a border of red and either white, gray, green or blue. The men were then asked questions about how attractive they found the women to be. Another experiment consisted of two photos of the same woman in which the woman’s shirt...
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