The Psychology of different Colors

As a designer, an understanding of color and color psychology is very important. This is because different colors and color combinations will bring about different emotional responses in the consumer. Making poor color choices can confuse or even offend your audience, turning an otherwise effective design into a total disaster.

Color is also a cultural phenomenon. Colors can have distinctly different connotations from one culture or region to the next. For example, in Western cultures, white is generally thought to symbolize purity (hence the white wedding dress for the virgin bride) and black is usually associated with mourning. In some Asian cultures, however, white is actually associated with mourning. What makes sense in one culture may not translate in another. Designers need to keep this in mind and do their homework before attempting to introduce a brand to a global market.

Here are some commonly accepted color associations:

Blue is said to be calming. Interior design experts often suggest that bedrooms be decorated in shades of blue because it may promote relaxation and sleep.

Blue is also said to curb the appetite. It has been suggested that eating off of a blue plate will help dieters to eat less and lose weight.

Red, on the other hand, increases your appetite. Many restaurant interiors use a great deal of red with this thought in mind.

Red has also been found to increase blood pressure and rate of respiration and is associated with aggressive behavior.

These associations, however, are only general rules. Color is a very personal experience. Just as certain smells remind us of certain people or events, colors can be very closely associated to our own experiences and memories. While red is thought to excite and sometimes aggravate, it may have a calming affect on someone whose mother often wore the color red. As a child, the color red could have come to symbolize security and warmth, bringing about an entirely different reaction than is typically expected.

While this information may seem trivial or useless to some people, to a designer it is essential. Color symbolism and psychology is so important, in fact, that some universities actually offer a major in color theory. Even if you have no interest in design, it is interesting to stop and think about which colors we are drawn to and how different colors make us feel.