The Psychology of Color — Yellow

David Kelly
3 min readFeb 7, 2019


“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” — Vincent Van Gogh

Psychological studies have found that our perception of colors differs extensively. Each color gives off a different, unique message to us. Colors can affect how we feel, as proven by scientific studies. This article will focus on the brightest color on the visible light spectrum, yellow.

Yellow is the most noticeable of all colors to the human eye.

The radiant color of yellow promotes happiness and optimism in the observer. Yellow is said to promote happiness more than any of the other major colors. Believed to have an influence on the left side of the human brain, yellow helps foster strong analytical thinking.

The positive qualities of yellow can also lead to abrasion when it is used too dramatically. While it can be attention grabbing, it can also lead to agitation in the observer. Though it appears warm and bright, yellow can lead to visual fatigue.

Some positive effects of yellow include:

  • Increased mental activity
  • Heightened awareness
  • Increased energy levels
  • Increased metabolic rate

Have you ever seen a picture of a bright yellow light bulb or someone’s head while they are thinking and an idea comes to them? Yellow helps unclog our thinking processes. While yellow helps us become more analytical, it can also help us find solutions through creativity. It does this by helping us to create different patterns of thought.

If you are preparing for and exam or speech or even working on a paper or article, placing bright yellow near you can help promote the aforementioned positive effects of the color.

Have you ever tried to read text that was in yellow? Yellow is the most fatiguing of all colors to the eye. This is because the brightness of the color means that the amount of light reflected is quite high. Believe it or not, using yellow as a background on paper, computer monitors, or otherwise can lead to eyestrain or even vision loss in the most extreme of cases.

High levels of exposure to yellow can also create irritability, aggression, or anger. This is simply due to the intensity of the color. Many individuals report agitation when placed in a yellow room.

Some negative effects of yellow include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Increased anger
  • Heightened levels of aggression
  • Heightened sense of agitation

As with all colors, yellow’s meaning is not necessarily universal. Differences in culture can lead to different associations being made with various colors. The same is true of individual experiences. Our own life experiences can affect how we perceive and associate with yellow. Does yellow remind you of a bouquet of flowers or does it remind you of an experience where you were trapped in a overwhelmingly bright yellow room?

While differences in culture and individual experience can lead to different associations with colors, some colors do evoke certain levels of moods or feelings. For example, this can be seen in yellow’s ability to increase our metabolic function. This is likely the case since it is more of a physiological effect in comparison to a psychological effect.

Yellow in Marketing and Business

Given it’s eye popping nature, yellow works well in advertisements. It is important to keep in mind that yellow should be used in moderation with ads, however. Those who drive yellow vehicles are said by experts to be happier people and also like to be noticed by others. Experts also say that those who drive yellow cars tend to have less risk aversion than those who do not. One would also believe that those who wear yellow clothing also like to be noticed by others.

Read about the color psychology of red.

Read about the color psychology of orange.

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David Kelly

I am a vocalist, writer, entrepreneur, and bodybuilder. My passion is helping people others find their own passion, purpose, and meaning.