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How Colour Influences The Human Consciousness

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ISHA SHEIKH (1211325)


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In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful This is by the Grace of Allah


Letter Of Transmittal Letter Of Acknowledgement Introduction Four Psychological Primary colours Colour Meaning In Different Culture How Does Colour Psychology Works The Many Moods Of Colours How Colours Does Affects Us? References

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14th November, 2012 Maam Farheen Nasir Course, Psychology Szabist University Karachi. Maam We here with present our Term Report authorized by you as a requirement for this course. In this report, we have tried to provide the Psycology of Different Colors We hope we have covered all that was required for the report. If there be any clarification demanded, we would appreciate a call from you. Sincerely, Mahwish M.Bashir Isha Sheikh Misbha M.Bashir

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Life is a journey; it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. But Life cant be completed without the support of many people.

First and foremost, we would like to thank Almighty ALLAH for guiding us and helping us in every path of our life, even in the smaller material things like this report. We also thankful to our parents for their unconditional love and support in whatever we do. A special mention goes out to all those people who gave us a part of their valuable time to fill up the questionnaires hence enabling us to conduct the research survey. And last, but not the least, we would like to convey our sincerest thanks to our respected Maam Farheen Nasir who approved our choice of topic and provided us with the necessary guidelines and requirements so as so help us with the progress and structure of our report. Working on this report has been a gratifying experience for all of us.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

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Colors may just seem simple and unimportant, but they affect our daily lives more than we may know. If someone is feeling angry, it could just be because theyre angry, or it could be perhaps that they are surrounded by or looking at the color red. Thats right! Peoples moods can change just because they are looking at different colors! There are many theories on how just a simple color can change ones whole mood. According to Johnson (2007), color does affect mood by producing certain chemicals and stimulating different feelings such as hunger. For example, blue can make one feel calm because it releases calming chemicals, and red can make one hungry because it is an appetite stimulant. Yellow can make one feel irritated, and it is a fact that people lose their temper most in yellow rooms. However, pink is tranquilizing and can make one feel weak. In conclusion, Johnson says that depending on the color, ones body can do things (like producing chemicals) that cause a certain emotional reaction (mad, sad, etc.). Another idea, by Smith (2007), is that the effect color produces is based on what ones body does in response. For example, yellow is mentally stimulating, and activates memory, whereas red increases confidence. Also, brown can make a person feel orderly and stable, while a dark blue can make one feel sad. Therefore, Smith says that different colors do in fact change ones mood and the consequences can be negative or positive. A third writer, Wollard, (2000) seems to think that color can affect ones mood, but the effect also can depend on ones culture and what ones personal reflection may be. For example, someone from Japan may not associate red with anger, as people from the U.S. tend to do. Also, a person who likes the color brown may associate brown with happiness. However, Wollard does think that colors can make everyone feel the same, or close to the same, mood. According to Wollard, pink reduces aggression, which is why the walls of the jail cells in the Seattle prison are pink! Also, brown can

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make one feel comforted. Wollard feels that colors do affect ones mood, but there are other factors that can alter what one is supposed to feel. Eric, John, and Paraags (2007) main point about color psychology is that color has both a physiological and psychological effect. For example, green makes people feel relaxed because it relaxes their muscles and makes them breathe deeper and more slowly. Furthermore, blue lowers blood pressure, which makes one feel calm. Eric, John, and Paraag conclude that color affects ones mood because of what it does to the body. Yet another idea, by Airey (2006), is that color is energy, and it can have a physical, mental, spiritual, and/or emotional affect on people. He states that black can make one feel sophisticated and secure, but it can also make one feel depressed. Also brown can make a person feel reliable and serious, while yellow lifts self-esteem. Therefore, Airey concludes that different colors can have different kinds of affects on people.

There are three ideas about color psychology in these sources, and they all say that color affects ones mood. They differ based on what factors influence the effects of color, such as culture, opinion, and what goes on inside ones body. One of the three ideas is that color affects mood based on ones personal opinions. For example, if a person dislikes the color pink, he may associate pink with hate. Another idea states that color affects mood based on ones culture. For example, someone from the U.S. may think of the color green when referring to envy, while people in Japan think of yellow in connection with wanting what someone else has. However, the majority of the sources consulted say that color affects mood by influencing what goes on inside of people. For example, seeing the color blue releases calming chemicals, which in turn makes one calm. Also, because yellow is the hardest color for the eye to focus on, people may become irritated when looking at yellow, and it is a proven fact that babies cry most in yellow nurseries. These theories do not seem to have much in common. In order to test ideas about how color affects ones mood (color psychology) this researcher will test sixty middle school students (thirty girls and thirty boys) on how the colors green, blue, black, yellow, red, pink, and brown make them feel. The students will mark the feeling that each color makes them feel, according to the choices shown on the example survey below. Color does affect ones mood, but it can affect boys and girls differently. For example, while most female middle school students found green neutral and balancing, most male middle school students found it secure and safe. However, there are also some similarities between the female Psychology Of Colours Page 7

and male middle school students. For example, most female middle school students thought that brown made them feel bored, and so did the male middle school students! Also, both found that pink made them feel love and affection. However, some results in this study were different from the research cited. For example, the research stated that brown would make girls and boys feel secure and safe, but instead it made them feel bored. Furthermore, the research said that yellow would make boys and girls feel irritated, but most boys and girls reported that it made them feel happy and cheery. Overall, most of the results were different from the research sources consulted. In any case, it is obvious that colors have a great affect on ones mood.

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There are three psychological primary colours - red, blue and yellow . They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between these three. The psychological properties of the eleven basic colours are as follows: RED. Physical Positive: Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, 'fight or flight', stimulation, masculinity, excitement. Negative: Defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain. Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the "fight or flight" instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.

BLUE. Intellectual. Positive: Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm. Negative: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness. Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to

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be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world's favourite colour. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional and unfriendly. YELLOW. Emotional Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity. Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide. The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our "yellow streak" can surface. GREEN. Balance Positive: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace. Negative: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation.

Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance - a more important concept than many people realise. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used, will be perceived as being too bland.

VIOLET. Spiritual Positive: Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality. Negative: Introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority.

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The shortest wavelength is violet, often described as purple. It takes awareness to a higher level of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introversive and encourages deep contemplation, or meditation. It has associations with royalty and usually communicates the finest possible quality. Being the last visible wavelength before the ultra-violet ray, it has associations with time and space and the cosmos. Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection and the wrong tone of it communicates something cheap and nasty, faster than any other colour. ORANGE. Positive: Physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun. Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity. Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating and reaction to it is a combination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort - food, warmth, shelter etc. - and sensuality. It is a 'fun' colour. Negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite - deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange is used with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectual values. PINK. Positive: Physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species. Negative: Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness. Being a tint of red, pink also affects us physically, but it soothes, rather than stimulates. (Interestingly, red is the only colour that has an entirely separate name for its tints. Tints of blue, green, yellow, etc. are simply called light blue, light greenetc.) Pink is a powerful colour, psychologically. It represents the feminine principle, and survival of the species; it is nurturing and physically soothing. Too much pink is physically draining and can be somewhat emasculating.

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GREY. Positive Psychological neutrality. Negative: Lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy. Pure grey is the only colour that has no direct psychological properties. It is, however, quite suppressive. A virtual absence of colour is depressing and when the world turns grey we are instinctively conditioned to draw in and prepare for hibernation. Unless the precise tone is right, grey has a dampening effect on other colours used with it. Heavy use of grey usually indicates a lack of confidence and fear of exposure. BLACK. Positive: Sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance. Negative: Oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness. Black is all colours, totally absorbed. The psychological implications of that are considerable. It creates protective barriers, as it absorbs all the energy coming towards you, and it enshrouds the personality. Positively, it communicates absolute clarity, with no fine nuances. It works particularly well with white. It communicates sophistication and uncompromising excellence. It creates a perception of weight and seriousness (it is a myth that black clothes are slimming). Black is essentially an absence of light, since no wavelengths are reflected and it can, therefore be menacing; many people are afraid of the dark.

WHITE. Positive: Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency. Negative: Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism. Just as black is total absorption, so white is total reflection. In effect, it reflects the full force of the spectrum into our eyes. Thus it also creates barriers, but differently from black, and it is often a strain to look at. It communicates, "Touch me not!" White is purity Psychology Of Colours Page 12

and, like black, uncompromising; it is clean, hygienic, and sterile. The concept of sterility can also be negative. Visually, white gives a heightened perception of space. The negative effect of white on warm colours is to make them look and feel garish. BROWN Positive: Seriousness, warmth, Nature, earthiness, reliability, support. Negative: Lack of humour, heaviness, lack of sophistication. Brown usually consists of red and yellow, with a large percentage of black. Consequently, it has much of the same seriousness as black, but is warmer and softer. It has elements of the red and yellow properties. Brown has associations with the earth and the natural world. It is a solid, reliable colour and most people find it quietly supportive more positively than the ever-popular black, which is suppressive, rather than supportive.

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Colors often have different meanings in various cultures. And even in Western societies, the meanings of various colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S., researchers have generally found the following to be accurate. Black Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black. White Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility. Red The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention. The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

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Blue The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms. Green Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck. Yellow Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

Purple The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial. Brown Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors. Colors of the Flag In the U.S. flag, white stands for purity and innocence. Red represents valor and hardiness, while blue signifies justice, perseverance, and vigilance. The stars represent the heavens and all the good that people strive for, while the stripes emulate the sun's rays.

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Food for Thought While blue is one of the most popular colors it is one of the least appetizing. Blue food is rare in nature. Food researchers say that when humans searched for food, they learned to avoid toxic or spoiled objects, which were often blue, black, or purple. When food dyed blue is served to study subjects, they lose appetite. Green, brown, and red are the most popular food colors. Red is often used in restaurant decorating schemes because it is an appetite stimulant.

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Many people think that colour is just a matter of how things look and it is often dismissed as being purely cosmetic. However, the truth is that colour is light - the source of life itself; there is nowhere that colour does not exist and our instinctive, unconscious response to it is a vital element in our survival. It is Nature's own powerful signalling system. Scientifically, it is the first thing we register when we are assessing anything: a very simple and obvious example of that is our reaction to a fly in our home: if it is black, we will probably find it a minor irritation, but if it has yellow stripes our reaction will be different - most of us will recoil. The same instinct tells us when food is unsafe to eat and throughout the animal kingdom colour is widely used to signal sexual availability. On a wider level, the colours of our environment affect our behavior and mood. When yellow daffodils, bluebells and colourful crocuses appear, we immediately begin to feel livelier; when grey skies and rain or snow surround us we instinctively draw in and tend to hibernate. In today's sophisticated world it is easy to underestimate the power of primitive instincts, as they are largely unconscious. Today we might be contemplating a packet of corn flakes or a new cold cure, rather than a primitive meal or a curative herb, but exactly the same instincts come powerfully into play. The colours of the interior environment wherein we live or work affects us in just the same way as those in the natural world always did. The colours that people wear still send out clear signals that we can all read accurately. Science has always recognised the link between colour and mood/behavior and there is a large body of scientific research into it. However, no one has written a monograph on the subject for over thirty years and one reason for this might be that results are so often inconclusive. It is not normally part of a psychologist's remit to study the finer points of colour harmony so colours are defined as, for example, "blue and orange" or "red and green" without much consideration of the subtleties of shade and tone. Everyone agrees that response to colour is subjective and assumes that it must therefore be unpredictable. Not so. Response is subjective but, when the study of colour harmony is combined with the science of psychology, reactions can be predicted with startling accuracy. There is no such thing as a universally attractive colour. Red, for example, might be your favourite colour but another person might hate it. You see it as exciting, friendly and stimulating,

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he sees it as aggressive and demanding. Blue might be perceived as calm and soothing - or as cold and unfriendly. It is the combination of colours that triggers the response. It is important to understand that there is a great difference between colour psychology and colour symbolism. Historically, what is often described as colour psychology is actually colour symbolism - the conscious associations that we are conditioned to make. For example, cultural responses to colour derive from a variety of causes: green is the sacred colour throughout Islam, being the colour of the Prophet's robe; in England it is considered unlucky, probably because of its association with decay and disease; in Ireland it is considered lucky, perhaps because when the world about us contains plenty of green this indicates the presence of water and therefore little danger of famine. There are many examples of colour symbolism: purple is associated with royalty for the simple reason that, until relatively recently, it was an extremely expensive dye and only royalty could afford it; red is the colour of blood and has associations with war. These associations often coincide with colour psychology (red actually can trigger aggression) but they are by no means the same thing.

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Infants as young as two months prefer colourful objects over non-colour. Young children are colour-dominant and are more attracted by colour than shape. As they mature, they will often become more form-dominant; however, creative people often remain colour-dominant all of their lives. Eye-tracking studies that record infants' attention spans indicate that, regardless of sex, red and blue are the most preferred colours. As we grow older, habituation or learning patterns, and doing what adults tell us is "appropriate," colours our thinking. Childhood memories are so involved with colour that they are indelibly stamped in our psyches forever.

Our cultural backgrounds and traditions influence our learned response and reaction to colour. For example, in many Middle Eastern countries, blue is viewed as a very protective colour. Front doors are painted blue to ward off evil spirits. Anyone raised with a deeply rooted sense of that hue would feel very safe in a blue environment. It is interesting to note that colour can have the same meaning cross-culturally. In some communities of the Southeast, front porch ceilings were painted blue to keep ghosts from entering and haunting the premises, while in the Southwest, many Native Americans paint their doors blue to keep the bad spirits away. Each culture has its own unique heritage of colour symbolism and each of us is a product of our early environment and so are our clients or customers. It behooves us to do some homework on the background and perception of colour in a given culture. As people move from place to place, they often carry their colour baggage with them. However, with shrinking territorial barriers and increased communication, there will be a greater homogenization of colour exchanges throughout the world and regional colour concepts will ultimately expand and change. Out of this cross-cultural exchange, a new collective colour consciousness will emerge. We are all well aware of the European influence on our sense of colour and design; however, there is an increasing awareness of typically American colours in foreign markets, largely because of American films and TV.

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Colour Psychology
Our personal and cultural associations affect our experience of colour. Colours are seen as warm or cool mainly because of long-held (and often universal) associations. Yellow, orange and red are associated with the heat of sun and fire; blue, green and violet with the coolness of leaves, sea and the sky. Warm colours seem closer to the viewer than cool colours, but vivid cool colours can overwhelm light and subtle warm colours. Using warm colours for foreground and cool colours for background enhances the perception of depth. Although red, yellow and orange are in general considered high-arousal colours and blue, green and most violets are low-arousal hues, the brilliance, darkness and lightness of a colour can alter the psychological message. While a light blue green appears to be tranquil, wet and cool, a brilliant turquoise, often associated with a lush tropical ocean setting, will be more exciting to the eye. The psychological association of a colour is often more meaningful than the visual experience.

Physiological Effects Of Colour

Colours act upon the body as well as the mind. Red has been shown to stimulate the senses and raise the blood pressure, while blue has the opposite effect and calms the mind. People will actually gamble more and make riskier bets when seated under a red light as opposed to a blue light. That's why Las Vegas is the city of red neon. For most people, one of the first decisions of the day concerns colour harmony. What am I going to wear? This question is answered not only by choosing a style and fabric appropriate to the season, but by making the right colour choices. And it goes on from there. Whether you're designing a new kitchen, wrapping a present or creating a bar chart, the colours you choose greatly affect your final results. How often have you caught your breath at the sight of a flowerbed in full bloom? Most likely the gardener has arranged the flowers according to their colour for extra vibrancy. Have you ever seen a movie in which a coordinated colour scheme helps the film create a world

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unto itself? With a little knowledge of good colour relationships, you can make colours work better for you in your business graphics and other applications.

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Colour is light and light is energy. Scientists have found that actual physiological changes take place in human beings when they are exposed to certain colours. Colours can stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite and create a feeling of warmth or coolness. This is known as chromo dynamics. An executive for a paint company received complaints from workers in a blue office that the office was too cold. When the offices were painted a warm peach, the sweaters came off even though the temperature had not changed (figure 1). The illusions discussed below will show you that sometimes combinations of colours can deceive the viewer, sometimes in ways that work to your advantage. They can also cause unfortunate effects in your graphics, so be sure to watch out for these little traps.

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Airey, D. (2006). How does colour psychology work? Retrieved October 19, 2007, from Eric, John, & Paraag. (2007). Color psychology. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from Johnson, D. (2007). Color psychology. 20002007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from Smith, K. (2007). Color: Meaning, symbolism, & psychology. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from Wollard, K. (2000). Orange you glad youre not blue? Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

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