The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


Analyzing the psychology of colors

Courtesy of Communicating Psychological Science
The psychology of colors is a fascinating concept that continues to be explored daily.

Every day, from the time you wake up until you head to sleep, colors swarm your surroundings. Due to it being so normal in our everyday lives, we don’t realize the major influence color plays in our psychology.
Color is a persuasive feature of our psychological experience that has a role in human behavior—including perception, emotion, memory, and development. The psychological experience of color emanates from the scientific reasoning of how we perceive color. When light hits an object, some spectrum within the light is absorbed while others are reflected. Our eyes perceive colors according to the wavelengths that are reflected. When the light is reflected, the photoreceptor cells in the retinas of our eyes transmit signals to our brains. The brain mixes and categorizes these signals to produce familiar sensations of color. Through this process, our brains can perceive color.

The most basic use of color is through perception. Color helps us distinguish between objects of similar shapes and sizes. Colors aid in the visual separation of an object from its background. It helps humans recognize visual scenes and form an understanding of distinct objects. Moreover, color holds information about the properties of the objects that we see. For example, we use color to distinguish if a fruit is ripe, or to determine the weather based on the color of the sky. Color helps us perceive the objects in our environment.

Although the scientific study of color is still fairly new, and not many clinical studies prove the effectiveness of color psychology, there is still research that shows the effects of colors on human behavior. Color psychology works through simple exposure to colors. As the brain becomes more familiar with the colors, it begins associating the color with different emotions. Essentially, your brain subconsciously links colors to these emotions, which influences your mental state when you see these colors. For example, if you associate blue with calmness, you’ll feel calm because you’re mentally primed to expect that result.

While the perception of the emotions related to color is somewhat subjective, there are still universal meanings. The universal meanings can date back to ancient Egyptian times. The associations of color from ancient times can relate to how people generally associate colors in the modern day. Mostly, to what is represented in modern day, warm colors, for example, evoke emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and fear. Cool colors can imply calm or seriousness and dignity. However, there are still personal and cultural aspects that can change an individual’s view on color.

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Moreover, colors influence children’s emotions as well as their creativity, aiding in cognitive development. Classrooms in elementary schools are filled with a variety of colors. Initially, one would think it is simply to please the children to see many colors. However, research has shown that color affects student’s emotions, learning, communication, and productivity.

Lighter colors such as yellow and blue promote positive emotions during a child’s development. Yellow, being associated with joy, and blue, associated with tranquility, eases children’s minds. Other light colors signify other propitious emotions. On the other hand, darker colors, such as dark blue, black, and gray, are connected to negative connotations. Yet, large amounts of bright colors are not healthy for a child either, as they can cause overstimulation. Brain research has shown that using more than six colors in a classroom can cause distracted learners and have a negative impact on a learner’s cognitive development.

Along with connecting color to emotions, it is also linked to certain thoughts, which are stored as memory. This happens when color is recognized and processed by the color center located in the occipital lobe of the brain. The brain processes several wavelengths of light that pass through the eye. Color psychology can improve long-term memory.

In 2002, research done by Smilek et al showed the effects of synthesized color. The study involved a 21-year-old female who went through color synthesis and found that it refined her memory of numbers. A related study conducted by Rothen & Ward, in 2012, discussed how individuals that experience color synthesis showed signs of enhanced visual memory. Memory has been shown to affect a wide range of variables related to memory.
Colors are not just fascinating to look at, but they have importance that shapes our lives. Everything has a purpose, and so do colors.

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