(BeWellBuzz) “Color contains the energy of the sun.” This quote from Veden Akademie conveys that color is not empty, but full; not simply eye candy, but ultimately nutrient rich, like sunlight. Through the centuries, Ayurvedic doctors have prescribed sunlight to treat certain sicknesses. People have long-studied light and color as healing agents, calling it chromotherapy, colorology or, now, color psychology. Modern “chromotherapists” recommend adding colored light to your bath to help balance your emotions and promote healing, a technology known as Hydro Chromo Therapy. Advertisers have also used light and color for generations to compel you to buy their products. Want to know how they do it?
A Brief American History of Colorology
No doubt, people have known about the effects of color on human behavior and health for thousands of years. Nonetheless, the modern western world saw a boom of interest back in 1982, when Harry Wohlfarth and Catherine Sam released an astounding study. They found that the colors and lighting in an environment significantly affected “neurochemical and hormonal changes,” both in normal and blind children. The brighter and busier the color spectrum was, the more aggressive the kids’ behavior. Conversely, the kids had lower blood pressure and were more relaxed in a room with “cooler” colors. That blind children were equally affected supports the view that it’s not just what we sense with our eyes, but the vibration of light and color that stimulates us even at very cellular level.
While it’s true that we have subjective responses to colors which takes past experiences and ethnic culture into account, studies have shown that some responses are prevalent particularly from within a certain culture. Today businesses employ effective strategies using color to evoke emotions and even hunger to influence how you eat, think and spend your money.
According to years of research, including the analytics of an Ecommerce “intelligence” service called KISSmetrics, this is a simple science. Sellers can actually target personality types using pigments, not only attracting you to choose their product but, in the first place, making you feel like you need it.
Red is risky because it can invoke caution, fear or even anger and aggression, so it’s used carefully in marketing. Strategists use fire-engine red effectively to promote a sense of urgency, as in “act now” ads or to warn you against a competitor. A cooler red such as burgundy will inspire sensuality and suggest luxury. Red also helps to increase appetite and actually raises your metabolism.
Orange attracts kids and incites creativity. Sellers use it coupled with neutral white and brown tones to invoke a sense of safety and reliability such as with Home Depot. Bright orange alone is used for call-to-action. If you’re an impulse buyer, this color targets you. You’ll find it in fast food joints and on clearance sale tags. Interestingly, ING, the financial institution offering savings and investment accounts, juxtaposes enterprising orange with secure blue.
Yellow stimulates hunger, so it’s no surprise that a certain fast food giant capitalizes on “the golden arches,” and constructs entire buildings largely decorated in yellow. It’s also associated with youth and optimism, cheer, excitement and sunshine. The idea of course is, buy this, be happy.
Blue is cool. It gives a sense of security and safety. Think: banks and insurance companies.
Green is now largely associated with energy conservation and environmental safety. It’s also associated with wealth, abundance, growth and prosperity. If you’re a budget-shopper, this color targets you. The recycling logo is green; as is, not ironically, bp, the worldwide energy (oil) supplier worth zillions.
Black denotes power, authority and rank. It can also indicate elegance or sophistication. Makeup packaging employs slick black (think: little black dress, or shiny black grand piano).
White indicates purity and innocence. Charities, spa’s and healing centers use white prominently. The color also indicates transparency and trustworthiness, and is associated with brilliance, ideas, modern technology (think: Apple) and the future (think: Jedi).
Color and Cells
Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. If we’re healthy, it’s because our cells are healthy. If our cells are depleted and sick, we experience depletion and sickness. Light is within our cells and surrounding us. Light resonates with our emotions and our physical bodies, conjuring more than visceral reactions like hunger and compulsion. People experience SAD, seasonal affective disorder, because of the absence of light throughout a winter season. When the earth draws nearer to the sun, shining ever more warmly on us, green trees awaken from a wintry slumber, flowers bud, bears come out from hibernation, fragrances fill the air and we get spring fever. We’ve all experienced this life force in light, and in color.
There is much more to the healing powers, benefits and necessary precautions of working with color. These descriptions are a starting point to scratch the surface of a wonderful reality that fills the earth, our lives, even our bodies.
As you’re creating the environment where you live, work, play, heal, practice, eat, etc., understand why you might be drawn to some colors. Choose colors according to the activities in the room. Wear colors that express your excellent mood, help to lift you up, or enhance the impression you need to make.
Natural Full Spectrum Light (e.g. sunlight): overcoming darkness; displacing ignorance; increased revelation, learning, knowledge; healing; warmth; awareness.
– Red: blood/life force; energy; stimulation; sexuality; passion; warfare; anger; aggression; warning; and urgency. Physiological effects include increase heart rate and blood circulation; faster metabolism; heightened senses; hunger.
– Orange: creativity; enterprise; reliability; fun and play; spontaneity or impulse.
– Yellow: sunlight; joy; happiness; party/celebration; power/energy; and hunger. According to Viden Akademie (Ayurveda), “yellow can add stress by preparing a person for fight or flight.” It denotes activity or immediate action, and everything youthful.
– Blue: spirit; water; heaven; healing; contemplation; tranquility; peace; protection; security; reliability; loyalty; integrity. Blue promotes a slower heart rate, deep breathing, sleep, quiet, and less sweating.
– Green: new life; abundant life; growth/sprouting; prosperity; health & healing; restoration; fertility; hope; balance.
– Violet/Purple: royalty; majesty; miracles; kingship; passion; authority;
– Silver: spirit; majesty; sacred; sleek or high tech; divine; wisdom; glamour; and grace.
– Black: serious, conservative and provincial; OR sleek, mysterious and hidden; elegance; sophistication; finality; emptiness; eternity; focus.
– White: pure; holy; powerful; brilliant; new, modern or futuristic; forgiveness; the angelic; the divine; victory of good over evil; God.
– Brown: earth/land; humanity; stability; slow; nourishing or satisfying. Brown is known to alleviate tension and reduce irritability, which may be why so many office buildings have preferred brown and beige interior decorating.
Each of these colors also has a negative side if over or under-exposed. It’s important to develop a relationship with color and light, paying attention to how you feel when interacting with them. Then you can begin to employ them according to your heart’s desire.
Wolfarth, Harry; Sam, Catherine. “The effects of color psychodynamic environment modification upon psycho-physiological and behavioral reactions of severely handicapped children.” International Journal of Biosocial Research, Vol 3(1), 1982, 10-38.