Color psychology (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the psychology of different colors, Color psychology, how colors affect people and what color preference means. 

What is Color psychology?

Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color influences perceptions that are not obvious, such as the taste of food etc.

Colors can also enhance the effectiveness of placebos. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants.

How researched is color psychology?

“Given the prevalence of color, one would expect color psychology to be a well-developed area. Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color’s influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor”, have noted researchers Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier.

Even though color psychology isn’t a much-researched area, it’s very much used in design, marketing, and other areas.

Colors are accurately chosen by popular brands to present their logos.

So nowadays people who want to start a business, get more interested in color psychology in order to set the right brand colors for their company.

Carl Jung and psychology of colors  

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung said that colors are the mother tongue of the subconscious.

His experiments and research led him to the creation of art therapy. He claimed that clients can recover from distress and trauma if they express themselves using colors and drawing images. 

Color symbolism

The color symbolism has a long history. Since ancient times people were paying much attention to “the language of colors”. It was reflected on ancient myths, fairy tales, religious and mystical teachings.

In astrology rays of the Sun giving 7 colors corresponded to the main 7 planets: red was the color of Mars, blue was the color of Venera, yellow: the color of Mercury, orange: the color of Sun, violet: the color of Moon green: the color of Saturn, purple: the color of Jupiter.

The symbolism of the colour red 

 Red color has contradictory meanings. From one side red symbolizes love, joy, beauty, from the other side it symbolizes war, blood, fire, revenge.

It’s also connected to aggression and sexual desires. Red also means power.

People of old tribes wore red clothes and painted their faces red before the war.

The symbolism of the colour Yellow

The yellow color is the color of gold, it also symbolizes illness, death. Wealthy people of many nations used to wear yellow clothes to differ from others.

For some Asian nations yellow color symbolizes sadness, sorrow. For Slavonic people yellow has the meaning of betrayal and jealousy.

In Europe yellow or yellow-black flag meant quarantine, and the yellow cross meant plague. 

 The symbolism of the colour Blue

The blue color symbolizes eternity, kindness, loyalty, honesty. Slavic people associated this color with sadness.

In ancient Egypt, it had a tragic meaning.

The symbolism of the colour green

The green color is symbolized with joy, hope, youth, immaturity and calmness.

Iranian people associate the color green with freshness, growth and at the same time with unhappiness and sorrow., that’s why they call unhappy people a “green leg ” and the graveyard: “greenhouse”. 

The symbolism of the colour White

The White color is associated with innocence, kindness and purity. Since ancient times white color meant a tendency to the spiritual simplicity.

But we must also pay attention to the fact that this color is associated with death for some nations and tribes. 

The symbolism of the colour black 

Black color means death and unhappiness. It is considered that black is also connected to sexual attraction.

For some African tribes, women having very dark skin are more valued as lovers, but not as wives. For some parts of Africa, this color symbolizes fertility.

Meanings of the color preferences According to color psychology and how colors affect people 

There are commonly noted psychological effects of color as it relates to two main categories: warm and cool colors

Warm colors: red, yellow and orange, can cause emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to anger. 

What about cool colors: green, blue and purple, they often cause feelings of calmness and sadness.

 Our choice of certain colors is affected by color meanings.

The same color can have different meanings, that can be connected to the culture, values, gender, mood, psychological conditions and other factors. Each person prefers some colors which are pleasant for him/her.

Тhe preference can change by time.

Anyways the preferred color can tell much about a person’s character, emotions, moods, etc.

Color psychology of Red

Red is the color of passion. If this is the person’s favorite color, means he/she is communicative, brave, willing.

People who are annoyed by red color, have an inferiority complex, fear of argues, the tendency of solitude. Red symbolizes energy, also erotism. 

Disgust towards this color means physical or psychological exhaustion. The color red is preferred especially by teenagers.

Red increases the level of adrenaline in the blood, working capacity.

It is recommended especially for slow people. But the excess of red raises aggression. 

Color psychology of Yellow

Yellow symbolizes ease in dealing with people, intelligence. This means communicativeness, adaptiveness, courage.

People who prefer this color, feel pleasure when they attract people.

When yellow is perceived as unpleasant,this  means the person is pessimistic and it isn’t easy to make an acquaintance with him/her.

This is the color of energetic and insightful people.

Yellow is good for mental activity.

Color psychology of Orange

According to color psychology, Orange is preferred by big dreamers, more intuitive people.

This color symbolizes warmth, energy, enthusiasm and happiness. It’s attention-getting, so it is used to draw attention to traffic signs and advertisements.

This color is liked or disliked in general.

Color psychology of Blue 

If the person likes blue, which means he needs rest, he gets tired fast and values the benevolence of surrounding people.

If this color annoys you then this means that you want to make an impression as if you can do everything, while in reality, you are not confident.

If the person is indifferent about blue, it means frivolity in the emotional sphere and it’s usually hidden with politeness. 

Light blue helps to learn the information better and make a friendly relationship.

So it is recommended to use this color inside the building for negotiations.

Color psychology of Green

The green color includes hidden energy, that’s why people who prefer this color are afraid of being influenced by others and tend to self-affirmation.

If green is annoying, this means that the person is afraid of problems in general.

People who achieve their goals without special volitional activity consider this color unsympathetic. 

According to color psychology, if people choose green, they are also kind, peaceful, balanced.

The green color takes away headaches, tiredness, calms the nervous system and lowers the blood pressure. 

Color psychology of Pink

People who like pink can worry about any little thing. Too pragmatic people can get annoyed by this color.

Pink is associated with femininity, based on that, It’s considered that this color symbolizes compassion, kindness, softness.

It also has the meaning of infantilism. Pink represents a gentle type of love.

Color psychology of Purple

Purple symbolizes luxury, infantility, need to be supported, power, ambition, etc. It is associated with mystery and wisdom.

Purple improves heart and lung function, but it shouldn’t be overused, as it can cause tiredness and wish to rest.

Color psychology of White

White is the synthesis of all the colors, so it can have different meanings and can be preferred by any person.

According to color psychology, in general, white symbolizes innocence, virginity, purity, perfection. This color doesn’t repel anyone.

Color psychology of Brown

People who prefer brown tend to instinctive experiences, feelings, they don’t like being in the center of attention and are dependent.

They also value family and traditions. If a person prefers this color to all other colors, means he has certain physical exhaustion. 

Color psychology of Black

Black symbolizes the dark perception of life.

People who prefer to wear black clothes are often unhappy, tend towards depression and anxiety, as they are sure that their ideals are unreachable.

But it can also signify an artistic person. If he/she often changes a black suit or dress to another brighter color this means that his/her pessimistic moods are often dispelled.

If black is always chosen this means the person is in some kind of crisis state.

Color psychology of Grey

Grey is chosen by mistrustful, reasonable people, who think long before making a decision.

According to the color psychology of grey, it is balanced and neutral color, associated with dull, loss, depression.

Grey is unsympathetic for impulsive people. 

People who experience strong exhaust, prefer this color too. 

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FAQs about color psychology

What color represents psychology?

psychology doesn’t represent a single color. Each color can represent psychology from different sides.

What is the most depressing color?

According to some researches, the most depressing color is grey.

How do colors affect the brain?

Brain-Based Biz, a branding blog reported: “Color impacts the brain because it can greatly affect our physiology since it influences anxiety, pulse, blood flow, and arousal”.

Who discovered color psychology?

The psychology of color dates back thousands of years, to Egyptians who studied their effect on mood and used them to accomplish holistic benefits.

What are the saddest colors?

Grey and black are associated with sadness, so they can be considered to be the saddest colors.

What colors affect your mood?

Colors affect mood in different ways: Warm colors like Red, Orange and Yellow can raise mood, make people more optimistic or cause anger while Grey can make people sad, depressed, Green and Blue are more calming, resting but they can also cause sadness.

What color attracts the human eye most?

Yellow attracts the human eye the most.

What color means fear?

Yellow is a joyful color but it can also be associated with fear.

What color is happy?

The color symbolizing happiness is considered Orange.

What are the 4 personality colors?

The four colors include Gold, Green, Blue, and Orange.

Those with Orange color personality strengths tend to be witty, spontaneous, generous, optimistic, eager and bold.

They need fun, variety, stimulation, and excitement.

Freedom to act is also important to an Orange.


Color psychology helps us to know more about us and other people.

It lets us know how colors affect our mood, what kind of emotions they can sparkle in us.

But we should also remember that color perception is often subjective, it can also be perceived differently by people depending on their national, cultural differences, their surroundings.

Clicking on the links below, you can find interesting, useful books about color psychology in Amazon:

  1. Color psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life
  2. Color & Human Response: Aspects of Light and Color Bearing on the Reactions of Living Things and the Welfare of Human Beings
  3. The Secret Lives of Color
  4. Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, & Violet
  5. Color Psychology: Profit From The psychology of Color: Discover the Meaning and Effect of Colors (PsychoProfits Book 2)
  6. Handbook of Color psychology (Cambridge Handbooks in psychology)


  1. B. A. Pazyma Color and psyche. Monograph.Kharkiv, 2001. —172p.
  2. B. A. Pazyma Color psychology. Theory and practice. Monography. Moscow, 2005. — 112p.
  3. A. Portmann The realms of color: lectures given at the Eranos Conference in Ascona from Aug. 23. to 31., 1972.— 492p.
  4. J. W. Goethe The theory of colors. England, 1840. — 423 p.

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