We are all affected by colour. Where we are, what we wear. And it can affect our mood, how we feel. In our surroundings, for example, people may feel uncomfortable after only a short while in a brightly coloured room, while feeling relaxed in a more subdued space. We experience the pleasure of the greens of summer and spring but some people can be depressed by long periods of grey weather in winter. This condition is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and was mentioned in the previous post here. SAD can be helped by sitting under full-spectrum light as the brain thinks it is receiving sunlight.
The idea that we are affected by colour has always been a general one, and few scientists have explored the specifics, or tried to isolate which colours provoke which reactions. But one who has, is psychologist Angela Wright. Her book, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology’, explains what colour is, how it works, and its influence on behaviour and mood. Her research with colour has identified links between patterns of colour and patterns of human behaviour which suggest there are four ‘psychological primaries that affect specific parts of the psyche’.
RED – affects us physically or what we might call ‘lower order’ psychological activity.
BLUE – affects the intellect, promoting thought and ‘higher order’ activity.
YELLOW – affects the emotions.
GREEN – affects the essential balance between mind, body and emotions. And this is more important than is often realised. But, of course, balance in all things is key.
The psychological effects of the other colours in the colour spectrum are combinations of the psychological effects of these primary ones.
ORANGE – a mixture of red and yellow, therefore combining physical with emotional reaction. It activates awareness of survival issues of food, warmth, shelter and sensuality.
INDIGO – a mixture of blue and violet (a dark colour) evokes deep contemplation and thought.
VIOLET – a mixture of red and blue, physical and mental. It seems to take awareness to a higher plane of thought, stimulating imagination, and can be described as the colour of the ‘spirit’.
Traditionally it has been thought that long wavelength colours – reds, oranges, and yellows – are stimulating and shorter wavelength colours – greens, blues, and purples – are soothing. Also, long wavelength colours are seen as warm and short wavelength colours cool. But Angela Wright disagrees. She believes that there are soothing long wavelength colours and stimulating short wavelength ones. The important factor in a colour’s stimulating or sedating influence is chromatic intensity; a very soft, light red (or pink ) is physically soothing.
How much are you affected by colour?