Study finds color choices paint mood, well being


Color is everywhere. It’s used as a form of self-expression and a way to set a particular mood. But color can also have psychological and physiological affects on the human body.

For example, an April 2011 study published in the psychology journal Emotion studies how the color red affects muscular activity. The study argues that red induces a stronger and faster motor reaction when compared to other colors, suggesting that the brain is stimulated by the color red.

In 2000, blue lights were installed in certain sections of Glasgow, Scotland to liven up the city’s landscape. Afterward, Glasgow’s crime rate dropped significantly in the areas where the blue lights were installed.

It was debatable whether the drop in crime was due to the blue bulbs, but scientists have proven that blue has a calming effect and can lower blood pressure. It inspires mental control, clarity and creativity. Think of this next time you are walking through the different shades of blue that pave the way from Caroline Hall to Notre Dame Hall.

The current color trends for our homes and offices are “a classic color palette of blues, greens, reds and neutrals [that] emulate the colors that come from the earth,” according to Interior Designer Kerry Shannon of Boston Store Furniture Gallery in Brookfield, Wis. What effect will this color palette have on our mood and physiology?

Green is said to be good for your heart as it helps bring balance and relaxation. There have also been studies that showed that looking at green can improve eyesight. Opposite on the color wheel of green is red, which has been shown to increase blood pressure.

“Due to our physiology, color can change the hormonal balance in the body. The appetite is stimulated by red, which causes many fast food chains to use this color in their branding. You become hungry when you see red because you are experiencing a hormonal shift,” said Jordan Acker Anderson, assistant professor of fine arts at Mount Mary College.

Anderson is an artist who works in painting, drawing and printmaking and is also a colorist, one who is concerned with the special properties and interaction of color.

Neutral colors are said to invoke a feeling of serenity that looking down a shoreline or out at freshly fallen snow might bring. But some people might not have that reaction to shorelines or freshly fallen snow.

“Our emotional response to colors is a complicated mix of social learning, experience, light, the eyes, the brain, and the molecular behaviors of entities that have their own unique characteristics,” said Christopher Belkofer, instructor in the masters of science, art therapy program. He poses the question, “How do we agree that the color red is the same for all of us?”

“Our relationship with color is very individual and changes throughout our lives,” said Anderson, who explained that our visual acuity for colors changes over a lifetime.

Knobloch-Nelson explained that the preferences, categorized by age, could also be simply because as we mature, we tend to streamline our aesthetic sensibilities to uphold a lasting quality that doesn’t need to be changed as often as trends tend to.

Though trends tend to sway consumers towards buying into them, Shannon firmly believes that “a home should reflect the owner’s interest. Interiors these days are eclectic, there is no specific style, no such thing as a period themed room anymore, it’s all very individual and anything goes.”

Do you feel like changing the color and decor in your home or office? Play the Color Sense Game by PPG Pittsburgh Paints at ? to help you decide what colors would best suit you. Don’t be surprised; many of the questions will ask you about your emotions.

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