Traces of Colors II – What Are the Effects of Colors on Human Life


While the dance of yellow and red continues outdoors, we at the Woodsaka workshop are working with the woods that enchant us by their natural colors. Their beauty is truly remarkable, and I wish you could witness it.

Amidst this vibrant array of colors, I’d like to explore another topic that aligns harmoniously with the essence of the season – the profound influence of colors. Colors are a powerful presence in every aspect and moment of our lives.

When I mention that colors are present in every aspect of our lives, it’s not an exaggeration. Take, for instance, the realm of traffic. In traffic, signs that require sudden attention and action are often colored red, wouldn’t you agree? Given that red signifies danger across a multitude of cultures, it stands as a prudent choice. From a neuroscientific perspective, it makes sense too, as a significant portion of the cells responsible for color vision in our brain are attuned to respond to the color red. Hence, red tends to grab our attention quickly, leading to swift responses to red traffic signs.

Colors also hold the power to sway our appetites. For instance, it’s known that the color orange stimulates appetite, and it’s commonly used in food packaging and fast-food restaurants. On the other hand, bright blue, a color rarely found in natural foods, can trigger aversion and loss of appetite. These subtle, often subconscious, color associations can alter our reactions to food and beverages.

Colors can even affect our perceptions of people. The color of a person’s clothing can influence the traits and characteristics we associate with them. Black is often linked to power and authority. Black doctor’s coats symbolize intellectual authority, while a black belt in karate represents both physical and mental strength. It’s worth noting that these associations are highly culture-dependent and can vary significantly depending on the context.

Colors also impact our perception of temperature. Whether we feel warm or cold can be influenced by the color tone of our surroundings. A room painted with warm colors can make us feel warmer than a room with cool colors at the same temperature. The relationship between color and temperature is not surprising at all. For many of us, blue represents winter, ice, water, freshness, rain, and wind, while warm colors like red or yellow conjure images of fire, sun, and summer. The classification of colors into “warm” and “cool” is not arbitrary.

Colors can affect our decision-making as well. When choosing a product from a store shelf, factors beyond price and brand may come into play. Since colors can evoke emotions, and our decision-making is heavily influenced by emotions, colors that stir our feelings can exert significant influence on our decision-making process.

In a study on the impact of colors on working performance, students waiting in a room painted red before taking an exam performed significantly worse. Researchers attributed this to the association of red with danger and failure, given that exam mistakes are often marked in red. Another instance of color influencing performance was observed in sports competitions. Teams wearing red uniforms lost more frequently compared to when they wore blue against opponents in blue.

However, for athletes wearing red, this can be an advantage. Warm colors like red and orange activate the survival mode, boosting speed and strength while reducing patience and creativity. On the other hand, cool colors like blue have calming effects and can enhance creativity. Installing blue lights at train stations or on streets can even reduce crime rates.

The color red’s ability to trigger a survival response, which prepares us to deal with potential threats, also affects our perception of time. Recall a tense and cautious situation; time seemed to stand still, didn’t it? It felt like it would last forever. The utility of this phenomenon depends on the context. In a crowded restaurant with limited seating, you might want customers to leave more quickly. However, in an airport, you might prefer passengers to perceive their waiting time for delayed flights as shorter, affecting your choice of colors.

Colors don’t just influence our psychology and emotions; they also affect us physiologically. Consistent with its psychological association with preparedness for danger, the color red is known to increase physiological arousal. It stimulates our nervous system, leading to an increase in heart rate and adrenaline levels in our bloodstream. This is the fight-or-flight response, facilitating faster reactions. Conversely, cool colors like blue and green seem to have opposite, calming effects. They soothe the body, reduce respiration, and lower blood pressure. Consequently, surgeons often wear green or blue attire.

The power of colors goes even deeper. We need to continue exploring this fascinating subject. I might dedicate several more writings to colors in the future.

As you prepare for winter, what have you been up to? Have any colors entered your life? At the Woodsaka workshop, we haven’t made many changes; there was no need. The myriad shades of wood already provide us with a warm and inviting environment. We consider ourselves fortunate.

Until next time, stay colorful and keep smiling.

Reference: https://neurofied.com/effects-of-color-on-behavior/