When picking out wall colors for a new house, most people try to pick colors that they believe generate a certain mood. Most doctor’s offices and waiting rooms are pale blues and yellows. Some people paint their kitchens and entertainment rooms fun bright colors to evoke happiness and liveliness. To an everyday person, these are just colors that we associate with certain moods, but to scientists, there is a reason we make these associations.
There is a certain pattern that psychologists recommend when picking the colors to paint each room in the house. Warm colors, like reds, rust, and tan, should go in your living room. It’s believed that these colors promote the start of conversation. Some restaurant chains, like McDonald’s, having taken advantage of red promoting eating. So it’s not surprisingly that warm colors can be recommended in the kitchen, also. In bedrooms, clam blue, lavender, and other neutrals promote calm feelings and reduce stress. Workout rooms are recommended to be a mixture of blue-green, which promote happiness. And finally, the office should be green. According to David Freeman, green is the color of focus and concentration. Green is also a color that you can be surrounded by, for long periods of time, without being distracted.
It is difficult to test the effects of colors on mood, because each person feels certain emotions differently and to different severities. One study was done using a mood questionnaire that studied the emotional effects of colors on each participant, in a closed space. The participants were brought to locations where color was supposed to evoke a certain mood, like a bright red cafeteria. With about 460 participants, 332 of them fell between the ages of 17 and 24. The results show that 26% of the participants disliked brown the most, 21% disliked orange the most, and 13% disliked gray the most. The color blue was favored by 136, the color green by 92, yellow by 83, and red by 42. There results of this study are broken down further and can be seen here.
Even though we do not know the mechanism, studies like this show that color and mood do have a strong correlation. But with so many other psychological variables, it is very difficult to draw a line in the sand where certain colors equal certain moods. For example, if someone grew up with a blue living area, blue may grow to generate communication and comfort for that person. Or if a person’s favorite building is white inside, that person might find a sense of calm in other buildings that have a white interior. There is an endless number of third-variables that can affect a person’s mood in a certain colored room. Because of the many studies that have been done, and the common view among psychologists, it is clear that there is a correlation between color and emotion, but it is still unclear what the mechanism is that causes this correlation
Take-home message: When painting your house, go with what colors feel right to you. If you think warm colors are supposed to make you hungry, but they make you anxious, don’t paint your kitchen walls red and orange. But if you’re painting the inside of a waiting room, and you know light blue evokes relaxation, it might be a good idea to paint the walls light blue.
Photo 2: http://acrossthemargin.com/the-waiting-room/