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Stephanie Nikita
August 23, 2013

How to Use Color to Change Your Life

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

One way to feel better when you’re down, attract a great guy and get your creative juices flowing is to surround yourself (or drape yourself) with color.

According to color psychologist, branding expert and color consultant Jill Morton, color theory (the idea that colors can affect moods and thoughts) is “not something that people just came up with. Our ancestors drew images on the inside of caves and that began our visual language. With color theory, we go way back in time.”

Many studies that have been done on the ways color affects us, and the most aggressive users of color theory to manipulate the masses are advertisers.

Bright, vibrant reds and yellows, for instance have been shown to speed up heart-rate and decision making, and even make us eat more and faster. Remind me, what colors are most associated with McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut?

While bright colors in advertising have been shown to attract consumer attention, empirical studies say it’s hue and saturation of color that alters a person’s mood, not necessarily the color itself:

“For example, it has been suggested that red has a greater capacity for arousal than blue; however, findings from a more recent study suggest that there is no statistically significant difference between these two [colors] in terms of physiological arousal and that it may be hue rather than saturation (intensity) of color that has an impact,” says Zena O’Connor in the paper “Color Psychology and Color Therapy: Caveat Emptor.”

Color also affects different people differently. The same paper notes that color is used differently between the genders and throughout different cultures, not to mention people with individual preferences for certain colors based on life experience.

“In addition, recent studies have found that responses to color may vary depending on age, gender, culture, and preference,” O’Connor says.

But since color is part of human life and, for most, part of every waking minute of every day, here are some tips and tricks from the experts on how some of the most common colors affect us, and how to make them work for you.

Red and Yellow

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What it does

Makes you hungry, horny and hurried.

What you should wear it for

A hot date, making a sale quickly, making sure all eyes are on you.

What you should use it for

Small accents of both red and yellow are recommended for rooms where you spend time focusing. These colors in large amounts have been shown to cause edginess and discomfort, but in small doses they’re perfect for energizing you and getting your creative juices flowing.

Other colors for similar results

Orange and pink.

Blue and Green

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What they do

Calms the nerves, relaxes the mind, makes you think about life and nature.

What you should wear it for

Relaxing, comforting and consoling yourself or someone else, keeping tensions low or giving a presentation.

What you should use it for

Like reds and yellows, the amount of blue you use is directly related to the effect it will have on you and your space. Too much blue can make rooms feel a lot colder than they actually are. That said, blues and greens have been shown to lower heart rate and promote relaxation, making them perfect for bedrooms.

Blue has also been shown to reduce appetite. Greens on the other hand don’t reduce appetite, but a green plate could help ensure you eat your veggies.

Other color for similar results