Color and Emotion

Different colors are all around us all the time. I know from previous classes that color is an individual experience and what I see may be different from what the next person sees. For example, my mom and I tend to differ or disagree a lot in how we describe certain colors we see. I also know they can have an impact on our mood, or how we feel, but I am not sure exactly how. I have also previously learned that marketing, like for fast food companies, involve meticulous selection of color because on the way it can impact the consumer. I am interested to find out how our brain processes color and how those colors can have an effect on human emotion.



First, let’s find out how the human body sees color. goes through the whole process. It states that when you see color, it is with the help of the retina, a part of the eye. Located within the retina are different parts called rods and cones. At the end of the rods and cones are proteins which help with either seeing at night, or what we are focused on, seeing color. The cones give us color vision. Once the color has stimulated certain rods, then there is a series of brain for the signal to travel through. First the retinal ganglion cells, then the thalamus, and ending in the primary visual cortex. The eye and brain work cohesively to provide the luxury of seeing color.

Colors serve a greater purpose in our minds. Vanessa Van Edwards describes a little bit about these purposes. Green is good for the eye and can be easily viewed for long periods of time. Orange gets more oxygen to your brain and encourages brain activity. Red increases the heart rate. Blue portrays a sense of tranquility. Lastly, grey is a vibe killer of sorts and does not inspire energy. A basic understanding of these purposes for different colors makes me want to see them in action.

One study at the University of Durby focused entirely on color emotion. There were 31 subjects, all of whom had education in the area of color and imaging, and had some color science training. Before the start of the experiment, the subjects were given definitions of the different color emotions to chose from when presented with a color. They were shown an illuminated individual patch of color one at a time in a dark room. A result of the study was that red, orange, and yellow colors are seen as warm while green, blue and purple colors are the opposite, cool. It is cool to see how colors actually affect mood and emotion in real life.

After all that I have learned, I appreciate color more. I know that not all animals and not even all people can see as many colors as I can. Not everyone can have the same emotional experience from color that I can, and I am truly grateful for that.

7 thoughts on “Color and Emotion

  1. Alexandra Paxton

    I am red green colorblind which does’t make a difference to anything I do in my day to day life, but after reading this I’m wondering if the colors of things have less impact on me because of certain ones I cannot see. Obviously I can’t imagine a color but from the descriptions you gave about reds and greens effect on people they seem to have that effect on me as well. Even though I don’t see the colors the same way as most people do they appear to have the same effect on me and my friends who aren’t colorblind. This is very interesting to me because although I’m missing a part of what other people are seeing, the colors have the same effect.

  2. lkr5215

    this blog taught me some new things i did not know. I did not really think of colors being seen different and how it can affect my emotions. I like that this blog is very to the point and it is open to many interpretations. Good job!

  3. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    I am absolutely fascinated by color theory! I think it’s amazing that people can see colors and consequently experience certain emotions. Something else that I have always wondered is why people are attracted to different colors. And why do certain colors look better on some people than on others. I’ll include at the end the link to an article that talks about what makes people choose favorite colors and potentially what that color says about them. The most interesting thing that I learned from this article was that people are more drawn to colors associated with positive experiences. For example, if you love nature and have pleasant memories of spending time outside, you might be more drawn to greens and blues.

  4. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    Most animals and other living beings do not have the ability to tell colors apart, so us humans are blessed with that sense. However, are we really blessed? In your blog you mentioned how grey is a mood killer, and I wonder if color was not apparent at all, we would not be affected by these changes. On the other hand though, bright colors definitely enhance moods and give us a sense of excitement. I am curious as to whether studies will be done comparing people’s happiness to the colors they are surrounded by. This would be difficult to do since happiness can not be clearly defined and is a soft endpoint variable, and it would be challenging to isolate people with solely certain colors. Ultimately, I think that warm colors and sunshine can correlate to happiness, and grey skies and darkness make people more sad!

  5. William Joseph Robbins-cole

    In the last school I attended when they revamped the classroom they had interior decorators come in and offer advice on how to best decorate the classrooms to promote a good learning environment. The first thing the decorators said to do was paint the walls a soft yellow color because it helps relax student and improve brain function. While this is purely anecdotal and I do not really have much evidence to prove that it does help the calming effect of the yellow walls actually did help me focus and I did better in classes where the wall color was yellow in comparison to classes I took where the walls were still white.

  6. Amily Zhuang

    My best friend has SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where her mood is affected by the weather. It was interesting to hear that the same can happen to you with colors.

    After researching further on this topic, I read that restaurants are typically warm colors for this very reason. It sparks an appetite! I can definitely see myself eating more at a red restaurant than at a blue restaurant.
    Great topic! It was interesting enough for me to do more research on my own to find out more!

  7. ljj126

    I believe 100% that color is a chemical thing. Speaking for myself, I know that there are just some colors that I am drawn to and can’t describe why. Also if you have read any studies on what colors to paint rooms in your house, or why colors in schools are chosen? It is so interesting that you have these results based off nothing more than a color. Do you find that you have notice you being drawn to any colors? If so did you see what it could possibly mean? I think it be worth looking into, and hopefully more studies will produce better results to really understand why color impact people!
    Good read!

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