Color seems so obvious. What many of us don’t realize is that psychologically, perhaps even subliminally, color influences decisions we make every day. Here, we explore 3 ways color psychology, operates in stealth-like fashion.
#1 Color Psychology and Attraction
Red by most accounts is considered an intense color. It’s somewhat dichotomous in that red is associated with positive elements such as love, but it also signifies warning, e.g., a stop sign. Either way, the color red gets your attention. A study shows that men or women are attracted to each other by the color red, but for different reasons. In a post for Psychology Today, Jeremy Nicholson (a.k.a. “The Attraction Doctor“) cites a 2010 study by Kayser, Elliot and Feltman indicating that men were more attracted to women wearing red, despite the fact that red makes one appear heavier. These women were also seen as more attractive. Hence the song, “Lady in Red.” As for men in red, the study finds that women perceive them as sexy and of a higher social status. Now for “men in black”…
#2 The Psychology Behind the Color Black
Black, too, is often a dichotomous color. It symbolizes sophistication, power and authority. At the same time it’s also considered submissive or a sign of humility—Amish wear black as do many religious officials such as priests and ministers. Color must also be considered within context and culture. For example, within a financial context, being “in the black” is a sign of a good balance sheet (at one time associated with the term “black Friday”)… contrary to being “in the red.” Villains are often depicted in the color black, and in some cultures, the color black signifies death or mourning. Yet people who wish to appear thinner, more powerful or sophisticated choose black apparel, e.g. “black tie affair.” Similarly, people who choose a black car do for a variety of reasons. Black can be intimidating in addition to powerful, so it’s a popular color for trucks and sports cars, though if that’s not your style or within your budget, you may opt for another more affordable model, but still choose the color black. Now, when it comes to reading color, black doesn’t matter. Here’s why…
“He Who Hesitates is Lost” When it Comes to Color
Here’s a color psychology game you absolutely must try called the Stroop Effect. As Psychology Today author Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D. puts it, “the Stroop Effect messes with your mind.” Though the word-interference effect was used to suss out Russian spies during the Cold War era, it’s a revealing look into the way the mind processes color and words. Try it, and see if you’re more clever, than the Russian spies.
Interested in learning more about color psychology? Subscribe to the Munsell Color Blog to learn more about how color is used in everyday applications… including a few not-so-everyday, “space age” applications.