Introduction to Color Psychology

“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” – Pablo Picasso

Color is the simplest of all languages to read and understand, while able to automatically cross all barriers or cultures. Yet, assorted meanings that change throughout time are applied to each one of them, each one having a universal perception with different meanings to many situations and individuals. Early cultures, such as the Chinese and the Egyptians, are known to have practiced chromotherapy-a light colored therapy which is used to heal with colors-still practiced heavily today in holistic and alternative treatments. Unfortunately, psychologists of Western society consider color therapy or color psychology as a temporary effect only.

Color psychology is a subtle language that represents the most fulfilling aspect of who we are as a person, causing a psychological effect on each one of us. We react strongly to colors without thinking about “who” or “why” or “when”. We just do. The use of colors has been around a long time, not just in our time and culture. They represent many things, with the symbolism of colors used for various moods. This symbolism of art and color therapies are used together, increasing in their popularity in the 20th century. Combined, they are used as an extended form of art therapy with therapeutic benefits, using certain color techniques combined with nonrepresentational forms of art work to invoke the mind and its hidden secrets.

Inner problems are brought to the forefront with specific connections to colored abstract shapes, almost instantaneously. The ability to use color refers to one thing. People can relate to with they are comfortable with, reminding them of something similar that they enjoyed. This is conveyed in two ways-psychological symbolism and natural associations. The natural association of color is considered by many to be universal and timeless. Blue refers to a baby boy, blue sky, or cooling streams and rivers, while green refers to grass and trees, and the color of vegetation. If one has a bad childhood, the color blue could mean the color of a shirt belonging to the abuser. Whatever the connection, the color or colored article brings the event to the forefront instantaneously, with emotions surfacing as if it were that day instead of today.

Another meaning for color is through symbolism, which is not universal and has more to do with cultural and contemporary associations. This level is unassociated with natural associations, such as green refers to the dollar bill or economic growth-greed or ecology-while blue may refer to sadness or being mentally stable. Dual symbolism occurs in color recognition, with the color red as a primary example. Usually, the color red is on sale prices or restaurant designs, as it is a very energizing and bold color. Yet it is also on the STOP sign all over the world.