Colours play on our wellbeing

Can you imagine a world without colour? Today, we have yellow, pastel yellow, shiny yellow, yellow ochre—and the list goes on. But did you know that colour can influence your mood and even impact the choices you make?

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How is our perspective shaped by colour?

Colour plays a significant role in presenting information, influencing particular moods and even impacting our decisions. Colour preferences determine items we decide to purchase, the outfits we wear, and the way we decorate our living space. 

While more scientific research is needed to get a better understanding of colour psychology, experts can state beyond a doubt that colour influences how we feel and act. But it is important to remember that colours are not interpreted in the same way around the world. Personal, cultural, and situational factors play a role as well. An example of this would be the colour black. In many countries, it is seen as a symbol of death, worn at funerals to express sadness at the loss of a person, but in Africa, black is a colour of masculinity and maturity.

This interesting dynamic really adds to the complexity of colours and how it is used in the design.

How does colour affect people?

According to Karen Haller, the Author and leading international authority in the field of Applied Colour & Design Psychology, colour affects our every waking moment. Yet most of us are only around 20 per cent conscious of why we make certain colour choices or decisions. These reactions are directly related to both learned associations and colours association from nature. Did you know that the further people live from the equator, the more likely they are to appreciate bright hues? In Egypt, the likelihood of yellow being associated with joy was just 5.7%, whereas in chilly Finland it was 87.7%.

Whether we recognise it or not, colour can trigger an emotional or physiological response. For example, green in the workplace has shown to increase creativity in people by up to 15% and improve productivity by 6%. Blue has shown to reduce both a person’s blood pressure and the number of heartbeats per minute, where red on the other hand has shown to increase our heart rate.

"Colour is one of the many ways to bring nature-inspired design into buildings, which we know can help relieve stress and mental fatigue, support focus and encourage overall mental well-being. Additionally, effective use of colour can help promote a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being, which is especially important in rooms intended for mindfulness and restoration, as well as lactation rooms for new mothers," says Emily Winer, who leads WELL Certification's Mind concept, which focuses on the promotion of mental health in buildings and organizations.

Colour affects our every waking moment. Yet most of us are only around 20 per cent conscious of why we make certain colour choices or decisions.

Karen Haller

Author and leading international authority in the field of Applied Colour & Design Psychology

Can Children’s Learning Performance Be Influenced By Colours?

Dr. Yiting Duan of Zhejiang Sci-tech University conducted a study on the impact of colour on people’s response and behaviour, and more specifically on children’s learning environment. Conducted amongst primary school children over a two-week period, a colour tendency test and psychological experiment used 3 different coloured environments to examine the children.

In the red environment, children showed a quicker reaction time for logical questions and improved accuracy of answers. The results of the blue and yellow environment were similar. Whilst the influence in the logic test was not clear, the detailed test was more conclusive:

“The influence was not obvious in the logic test, but it could improve the accuracy in the detail test, which shows how yellow and blue stimulates children’s attention and accuracy.” (Dr. Y. Duan)

Colour and the human mind

Using colours in interior design is a fantastic and exciting opportunity to shape a space and make a real transformation. By playing with the colours we use in a space we can nourish a particular atmosphere. We can reduce stress, stimulate thought, encourage productivity or even create an oasis of comfort and safety.  

As we learn more about colour psychology, using colour in interior design will be a great tool to build a holistic space that goes beyond conscious thought.