The Psychology of Color

Ever wonder why you like a certain color or avoid another? The psychology of color has been a topic of interest for years, and one of the earliest formal explorations of color theory came from the German poet Goethe, who in 1810 published Theory of Colours, a treatise on the nature, function, and psychology of colors.

But it wasn’t until nearly a century later when the concept of color’s effect on the human experience was given a scientifically authoritative voice, when psychologist Carl Jung pioneered the field of color psychology. He said about the impact of color, colors are the mother tongue of the subconscious.” Research in more recent years has shown that color does in fact affect our physiology and emotions. What colors do we love most? According to various color research trends, blue is a consistent preference for about a third of Americans, green follows (around 20%), and then it drops to red and purple (a little under 10%). 

After researching various sites and blogs by people and organizations that study color, following are some ‘colorful’ depictions of our associations, embellished (in quotes) by Goethe.

Blue is described as peaceful, restful and cool; deeper shades convey order and more intense shades can be invigorating and energizing. But as we readily follow an agreeable object that flies from us, so we love to contemplate blue -- not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”

Green is the color of botany, the very essence of life. Green is friendly, dependable, soothing, and healing. Deeper hues have a prestigious association (because… duh, money.) The eye experiences a distinctly grateful impression from this colour.”

Red is thought to be one of the most researched colors. It is provocative with positive and negative ends to a spectrum of associations. On the one hand, it can convey aggression and danger and on the other, passion and love. “I have known men of education to whom its effect was intolerable if they chanced to see a person dressed in a scarlet cloak on a grey, cloudy day.”

Purple rocks the personas of both its parents, red and blue. It ranges from contemplative and spiritual to sensual and regal.

Ah yellow; the color of sunshine is energetic and warm. For some, perhaps because of our traffic signals, it implies a cautionary state. It is also thought to stimulate creativity and confidence. “In its highest purity it always carries with it the nature of brightness, and has a serene, gay, softly exciting character.”

Long a meaningful color across various cultures, orange’s many shades draw numerous associations. Vibrant shades are uplifting, while peachey hues are inviting and sophisticated. “In looking steadfastly at a perfectly yellow-red surface, the colour seems actually to penetrate the organ.” 

The classic combination of red and green for the holidays goes back centuries and is thought to have its origins quite simply in holly plants because they remain vivid and beautiful in winter time and have long been used to decorate homes at this time of year. Interestingly, the specific shade of red we so often see in the US is also attributed to a 1931 Coca-Cola ad campaign. The artist hired by the company (Haddon Sundblom) is credited with the robust and jolly Santa that is ubiquitous today, and in a suit that was - coincidentally? - the very same shade of red as the Coca-Cola logo. Mind blown?

Of course, here at Clark’s Botanicals, we are all about green. Our packaging color is intended to reflect our relationship with botany and our commitment to our planet. Here’s to happy, colorful holidays.

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