Science and Psychology of Color

science and psychology of color

Color is all around us, but what influence does it have on our moods, emotions, and behaviors? Can it?

PS: This blog post is assorted from various articles on the internet, and can get quite technical sometimes.

What’s color?

Color is the aspect of things that’s caused by differing qualities of light being reflected or emitted by them. To see color, you’ve got to have light. When light hits objects, some of the wavelengths are absorbed and some are reflected, depending on the materials in the object.

The reflected wavelengths are what we perceive as the object’s color. The world is full of light. Visible light is made of seven wavelength groups. These are the colors you see in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet — VIBGYOR.

Color is all in the mind

All light rays contain color. Light is made of electromagnetic waves. Different colors have different wavelengths, which is the distance between corresponding parts of two of the waves.

The longest wavelength of light that humans can see is red. The shortest is violet. Ultraviolet has an even shorter wavelength, but humans cannot see it. Some birds and bees can see ultraviolet light. Infrared has a longer wavelength than red light, and humans can’t see this light but can feel the heating infrared generates.

Color is just a perception

From the standpoint of physics, our perceptions are inherently false. What we see as a cell phone or a tiger are just clouds of tiny particles held together by powerful electrical forces.

But despite our disconnect from the true nature of reality, our perceptions are probably the most important condition of being alive. The magic of perception is that each person creates his or her meaning through perception. And although our perception is personal, underlying much of it’s a common thread that runs throughout humanity, and may also extend to other animals, as well.

Take the color red. Unless you are color blind, the wavelengths of light that correspond to what we perceive as red will produce similar effects on people. The power of red also extends to the realm of sexual attraction. So, our perceptions of red are more than a conscious acknowledgment of a color found on tomatoes or roses or blood. There’s a subtle — often unconscious — act of creation that occurs every time red flashes before our eyes.

The only information that our color vision can use as an input is essentially the three red, green, and blue filtered black and white images that we see. The colors we see do not exist in the physical world, rather, the physical world only has the light of different wavelengths.

Color psychology

It’s the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. It influences perceptions that are not obvious, such as the taste of food. It can also enhance the effectiveness of placebos.

For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants. It can indeed influence a person; however, it’s important to remember that these effects differ between people. Factors such as gender, age, and culture can influence how an individual perceives color.

Colors have deep subliminal meanings that affect our thinking and rational. They have symbolic meaning that changes among different cultures and countries and can create different moods and emotions.

Color psychology is also widely used in marketing and branding. Many marketers see color as a vital part of marketing because color can be used to influence consumers’ emotions and perceptions of goods and services.

Color on branding

Companies also use color when deciding on brand logos. These logos seem to attract more customers when the color of the brand logo matches the personality of the goods or services.

However, colors aren’t only important for logos and products, but also window displays in stores. Research shows that warm colors tended to attract spontaneous purchasers, despite cooler colors being more favorable.


The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light. It’s all in the mind!

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