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How Colour Can Affect Our Mood

How colour can affect your mood

We have all experienced the feeling of walking into a home and it feels oppressive, draining and depressing. Strangely this can all come down to what colour the owners have chosen to paint it. It might be a case of personal taste but for most of us certain colours can evoke feelings of calm, relaxation and energy. Or at the other end of the scale, anger, hate, depression and moodiness.

coloured paintsWe all know that red is associated with anger, green with envy, blue with boys and pink with girls, but do these associations really have anything to do with how we feel about those colours?


Blue is a colour which occurs very rarely in nature, aside form the sea and the sky. There are very few blue flowers or vegetables and in the past the colour was a primitive sign of something which should not be eaten or something which has gone off. Despite this the colour blue in a room has been known to decrease the heart rate and have relaxing tendencies. This is thought to be down to the association with the sea and the sky, two things which are calming and relaxing.


This colour has the opposite effect. The body is more likely to release adrenaline and blood pressure increases when exposed to a red colour in a room. This could well have something to do with the association with blood and our usual response to this is panic.


A study was carried out among inmates in a prison where their cells were painted a particular shade of barbie pink. The researcher reported suppression of anger, antagonism and anxiety. They found that even if the person wanted to be angry they couldn't as their heart rate simply would not increase to the required levels. Unfortunately it was found that the effects are short term and once the prisoners became used to the effects they returned to normal.


Studies in schools has found that yellow and other light colours can increase the IQ of children by as much as 12%, while black and brown can actually lower IQ. Yellow also evokes thoughts of the sun and warmth. It is a shade which makes us think of spring and this has an energetic feeling to it.

Psychiatrists have also put certain colours into three basic areas or actions which they believe apply to all people.

Active colours

These are warm colours such as yellow, orange and red. They are positive and confident and tend to inspire conversation. Yellow are considered more creative while reds heat up an atmosphere.

Neutral colours

These are creams, beiges, greys and whites. They tend not to evoke any feelings at all, but should be used in conjunction with other colours to allow them to bounce off each other.

Passive Colours

These are colours such as blues greens and purples. They are often inspired by nature and are calming and relaxing they are perfect for bedrooms and bathrooms or other places where people are on their own. They will not inspire conversation so should not be used in living rooms or kitchens.