Color Psychology: Tests & Experiments

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  • 0:02 What Is Color Psychology?
  • 1:04 Experimenting with Colors
  • 3:20 Psychology & Colors
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Colors can have a big influence on our mood, behavior, and emotions. Complete this lesson to learn about color psychology and how scientists figure these things out.

What Is Color Psychology?

Most high school classrooms are all the same color: sky blue. Do you remember what color the walls in your high school were? Or what the color scheme was at the last fast-food chain you visited? Turns out, this little detail of color isn't random; in fact, colors can have a real impact on human behavior and emotions. This idea goes as far back as ancient Egypt, but it gained greater attention through the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung.

Color psychology is the study of colors in order to better understand their impact on human behavior and emotions. Close your eyes and think about the color white. What did you imagine and feel? If you're like most people, you thought of clouds, brides, or babies. The color white is associated with purity and goodness for most people.

Don't worry if you didn't think of those things, though. There's no doubt that colors have an impact, but they don't always have the same effect on everyone. Scientists know that age, gender, culture, and experiences all shape how a person views colors. So if white made you think of pain because of the time you got a shot at the doctors' office, that's totally normal, too.

Experimenting with Colors

Advertisers and marketing companies spend a lot of time strategically studying how to use color to get us to buy whatever they are selling, but science hasn't built a large body of research on the topic. What data science has uncovered is mostly applied, meaning that experiments have been conducted to figure out what effect color has on a specific topic, like what colors will make children more calm. These experiments don't go on to dig into why children are calmer in blue rooms or why we buy more when we see the color red. Those types of experiments would be theoretical, or based on looking at the psychology behind the behavior and not just the behavior itself. Do you see how these are different?

This doesn't mean that colors have zero impact on mood and behavior, but, rather, that psychologists know these relationships exist but don't know all the answers as to why. Let's look at a few experiments that have been conducted about color and behavior:

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