Color Psychology: Which Color Means What?

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A saying goes that, Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye- inner pictures of the soul is also included. The proper definition of color from this may be found! Many people think that color is just a matter of how things look like. But scientifically, it is the first thing humans register when we are see anything. For example: if a fly is black, we won’t get irritated that much but if it is with yellow stripes, our brain will register it as a threat.

The way we perceive the whole world from our own perspective is the area of color psychology. Color affects a lot of things like: perception, moods, nature etc.

Some colors have different impacts based on different types of people, gender, geography, culture, etc. factors. The fondness of color is relative. A person may find Red as a great color while other can find it as the opposite. Some may see it as friendly, loving and stimulating, on the other hand, some may find it as aggressive.

Normally color psychology relies on six basic principles:

  1. Specific meaning.
  2. The meaning can be either based on learned meaning or intuitive meaning.
  3. Evaluation is caused automatically by the person perceiving.
  4. Color-motivated behaviors are forced by evolution.
  5. Color can influence humans automatically.
  1. Context is a very important aspect here.

The Psychological properties related to color:

We ponder if we all see colors the same. The answer Is negative. In color psychology it doesn’t matter what we think we are looking at; actually the effect of colors on us is caused by their energy entering our bodies. Even color-blind people are also inclusive to color psychology!

Color affects our emotions and behavior. Our reactions to colors are led by a combination of many factors such as: biological, physiological, psychological, social and cultural factors.

An excellent example of executive for a paint company can be stated here. He received complaints from workers who work in an office which he painted in blue. The officers said that the office was too cold. After that incident when the offices were painted with a warm color, the complaints ended suddently even though the temperature was same! Isn’t it amazing? This phenomenon happened just because of color psychology.

Each and every color has potentially positive or negative psychological effects and the effects depend on the relationships within color combinations.

The psychological properties of the basic colors are given below:

1.RED

Positive aspects: Physical courage and strength, warmth, energy , ‘fight or flight’ signal, excitement.

Negative aspects: Aggression, visual impact and strain.

Being the longest wavelength, red is a very powerful color. It appears to be nearer

than it is. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights has made it accepted by the whole world.

2.Blue

Positive aspects: Intelligence, communication, trust, coolness, reflection, calm.

Negative aspects: Coldness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness.

Blue is perceived as a soothing color; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have on red. According to research, blue is the world’s favorite color though it is sometimes perceived as cold, and unemotional.

3.Yellow

Positive aspects: Optimism, confidence, friendliness, creativity.

Negative aspects: Irrationality, fear, anxiety

Yellow is the color of confidence and optimism. But too much of its use or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a color scheme can result in self-esteem fluctuation and give rise to anxiety.

4.Green

Positive aspects: Nature, fertility, harmony, balance, refreshment, peace and equilibrium

Negative aspects: Boredom, stagnation

Being in the center of the color spectrum, it resonates balance. When the world around us contains plenty of green, this indicates safety of life. It also indicates presence of water and little danger of famine. If incorrectly used, it can be perceived as boring.

5.Violet

Positive: Containment, vision, luxury, quality.

Negative: Suppression, oppression and inferiority.

The shortest wavelength in the color spectrum is violet, also known as purple. This color encourages deep contemplation. This color expresses royalty.  Again wrong tone of violet can indicate cheapness.

6.Orange

Positive: Physical comfort, warmth, sensuality, fun and passion.

Negative: Frustration, immaturity.

The color orange is stimulating and which combinines the physical and the emotional aspects. It focuses on issues like physical comfort. On the other hand, it can focus on the exact opposite – deprivation if negatively used.

7.Pink

Positive aspects:  Peace, warmth,  femininity and love

Negative aspects: Emotional claustrophobia, physical weakness.

Being a tint of red, pink affects us physically and its soothing, rather than stimulating. Too much pink can be somewhat emasculating. That’s why it’s not so common in men’s wear.

 

  1. Grey

Positive aspects: Neutrality.

Negative aspects: Lack of confidence, dampness and lack of energy.

Pure grey is the only color that has no direct psychological properties that’s why it is called neutral. However, it’s quite suppressive. Too much use of grey usually indicates a lack of confidence.

 

9.Black

Positive aspects: Security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance.

Negative aspects: Coldness, menace, heaviness.

Black is all colors totally absorbed. Black creates protective barriers, as it absorbs all the energy coming towards the black dress wearer. It creates a perception of weight and seriousness. It can be menacing to many people as black is the absence of light. That’s why many people are afraid of the dark.

 

10.White

Positive aspects: Hygiene, clarity, purity, simplicity.

Negative aspects: Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness

White is total reflection opposite to black. White is purity and uncompromising. it denotes hygiene and sterility.

 

11.Brown

Positive aspects: Warmth, nature, earthiness, reliability

Negative aspects: Lack of humor, heaviness

Brown usually consists of red and yellow, with a large percentage of black in it. It has associations with the earth and the natural world and so it reminds us about earth.

The significance of color psychology in fashion world:

 

Color is a major element of fashion design. In fashion, color is one of the most effective tools to attract the customers. Psychologists saythat color impression can be responsible for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of a product. Different cultures have different symbolic meanings of colors. For example, white is the color for weddings in western societies where white is worn by widows in the South East Asian countries. So fashion designers must consider the color, focus on consumers preference for color, shade, style, patterns and the psychological effect of those colors. Designers must apply color psychological effect in fashion planning and designing, developing their planned products and marketing them.

 

Nobody can deny that color is the first thing that people notice. The color of your dress defines your first impression. To be a good fashion designer, you should have all basic ideas  about color psychology & its meaning. We can study color meanings to grow up our company strategy & connect to ideal customers. If we use our knowledge of color psychology well, we will enjoy massive success in our business, career & personal life. So not only as a fashion designer but also a human being, we should be aware of color psychology.

Tanvir Ahamed Fahad                                                                                 Department of Textile Fashion and Design,                                                                 Bangladesh University of Textiles,
 Batch-44

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