Psychology Behind Colors

Background, meaning, emotion and impact

Erik Fiala
Oct 11, 2016 · 4 min read

Psychology behind colors — one of the most favourite topics I like to talk about. This post will be mostly covered by picture explanations, but you’ll get the point. Who wants to read super-long posts anyway… 😪😄

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Color is a form of non-verbal communication. It is not a static energy and its meaning can change from one day to the next with any individual — it all depends on what energy they are expressing at that point in time.

Emotions — A bit more specified

  • Positive: physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, stimulation, masculinity, excitement
  • Negative: defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain
  • Positive: intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm
  • Negative: coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness
  • Positive: optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity
  • Negative: irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide
  • Positive: harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace
  • Negative: boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation
  • Positive: spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality
  • Negative: introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority
  • Positive: physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun
  • Negative: deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity
  • Positive: physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species
  • Negative: inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness
  • Positive: psychological neutrality
  • Negative: lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy
  • Positive: sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance
  • Negative: oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness
  • Positive: hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency
  • Negative: sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism
  • Positive: seriousness, warmth, Nature, earthiness, reliability, support
  • Negative: lack of humour, heaviness, lack of sophistication

The most favourite colors for men and women

The least favourite colors for men and women

Colors in Branding

Credit: The Logo Company

Colors in Marketing

Credit: Fast Company

Misconception around the psychology of colors

As research shows, it’s likely because personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, and context often muddy the effect individual colors have on us. So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to evoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard palm reading.

Thank you for your time and if you’d like to share some insights on this topic, just drop me a comment down below. Hope you enjoyed this blog post. See you in the next one!


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Erik Fiala

Written by

Product Designer at Feats

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