The Meaning of Colors

Color Psychology: Do you think colors affect emotions, appetites, or energy levels? Plenty of people seem to think so, as evident from all the advice out there on what wall color will best induce relaxation in your bedroom, what color can stimulate learning in schools, and even what color might reduce aggression among prisoners. Although psychologists have been researching color since the early 20th century, findings have been mixed, for the most part. Different cultures have different interpretations of color. This means, for example, that research findings on differences in gender responses to color may only apply to individuals who share the same cultural background as the research participants. In spite of the fact that color research is often viewed with skepticism by traditional psychologists, it remains an interesting topic to consider.

Cultures and Color: Ancient Egyptian and Chinese peoples believed strongly in the healing power of color and light, a practice known as chromotherapy. Since color represents split light, and light contains energy, the premise behind chromotherapy is that colors and light can be used to restore balance in the energy fields of our bodies. Cultures do seem to share some common meanings of color. Green usually means nature, health, and harmony, while blue often stands for stability and intelligence. On the other hand, in Western cultures, the color symbolic of death and mourning is black; in Eastern cultures, it is white. Yellow symbolizes joy and light in many cultures; in others, it represents aging and decay.

Deaf People and Colors: While research has found visual perception differences between Deaf and hearing people, when it comes to color perception, there are more similarities than differences between the two groups. What do you think about colors? What color was your room when you were growing up and did it affect your mood? If you grew up in a dorm room, what color was it? Do you think it was painted that color on purpose (i.e., color psychology) or did your school just make use of a bulk donation of paint? In your opinion, is there any difference between Deaf and hearing people regarding colors?

As for which color being tested on jail walls, with mixed results, the recommendation from color “experts”: pink!

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