One of the most important decisions when making a home feel like, well, home is the colors we choose for the walls. Just because hot pink is your favorite hue doesn’t mean it will look good splattered all over your living room. And choosing a color should not just be about taste, because there actually exists psychological properties associated with different shades.
So why do we gravitate toward some colors more than others? Just take a look at evolution, at least according to biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who claimed that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." That, says an article in Psychology Today, applies to color psychology as well.
The article cited psychologists Stephen Palmer and Karen Schloss, which took the evolutionary standpoint and applied it to color preference in a 2010 article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The theory: People are more likely to survive if they are attracted to objects with colors that "look good" to them. With that in mind, people should prefer colors associated with the sky and water (blue and cyans) and reject those related to negative reactions (brown, which is reminiscent of rotting food and other unseemly things.)
We turned to Colour Affects to help put you in the right color direction. Colour Affects is a U.K.-based company that guides people and organizations to “harness the profound psychological influence of color on human response and behavior.” The company advises corporate clients on colors for branding and design, and individuals for fashion, makeup and residential interiors.
Its mission statement:
“To bring harmony and objective rationale to the use of color in all aspects of life — easing the pain of color selection, saving time, money and uncertainty, and empowering people to get colors right every time ... with absolute confidence."
So before you grab your paintbrush and make the wrong color decision, get familiar with the color wheel and how each hue will make you feel. Here are the psychological properties of 11 basic colors. For a more in-depth look that drills down to various shades of each color, check out Color Wheel Pro.
Red represents physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, stimulation, masculinity and excitement.
Its negative attributes include defiance, aggression and strain.
Blue represents intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, coolness and calm.
Its negative attributes include coldness, aloofness and lack of emotion.
Yellow represents optimism, confidence, extraversion, friendliness and creativity.
Its negative attributes include irrationality, fear, depression and anxiety.
Green represents harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness and peace.
Its negative attributes include boredom, stagnation and blandness.
Violet represents spiritual awareness, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth and quality.
Its negative attributes include introversion, decadence, suppression and inferiority.
Orange represents physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance and fun.
Its negative attributes include deprivation, frustration, frivolity and immaturity.
Pink represents physical tranquility, nurture, warmth, femininity, love and sexuality.
Its negative attributes include inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation and physical weakness.
Gray represents psychological neutrality.
Its negative attributes include lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation and lack of energy.
Black represents sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety and efficiency.
Its negative attributes include oppression, coldness, menace and heaviness.
White represents hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication and efficiency.
Its negative attributes include sterility, coldness, barriers and unfriendliness.
Brown represents seriousness, warmth, nature, earthiness, reliability and support.
Its negative attributes include lack of humor, heaviness and lack of sophistication.
With these properties in mind, the CertaPro Painters of Louisville developed this infographic with color suggestions for each room of a house, accent color ideas and how companies use color in advertising. There’s a reason McDonalds’ logo uses red and yellow.