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The Complete Color Harmony by Bride M Whelan, Tina Sutton

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The Psychology of Color
Believe it or not, wearing certain
colors can help you get a raise, win an
argument, and encourage friends to spill
the latest gossip. Colors in your home
have the ability to relax you, encourage
or discourage conversation, and even give
you insomnia. And hues on packaging
send subliminal messages that the
enclosed product is healthy, expensive,
or dangerous.
Why? Because of the psychology
of color, which refers to the strong emo-
tional reactions we all have to colors.
Research studies have proven that our
responses are partly physiological, based
on the effects colors have on our eyes
and nervous system, and partly influ-
enced by our environment and life
experiences.
Starting with the science at its sim-
plest, the retina focuses on colors as rays
of light which have varying lengths and
degrees of refraction, reflection, and
absorption, depending on the hue. The
eyes perception of each color triggers
instantaneous reactions in the brain and
autonomic nervous system.
For example, hot colors—such as
red, orange, and yellow—have the
longest wavelengths, requiring energy
to view them. That’s why those colors
seem to pop out at you. They also stimu-
late the brain and raise pulse and respira-
tion rates.
In contrast, cool colors—such as
blues and greens—have the shortest
wavelengths and easily enter the eye. That
produces a calming and soothing effect
while actually slowing the metabolism.
In addition to the involuntary reac-
tions we have to color, learned responses
are equally important. We’re taught that
pink is for baby girls and blue is for boys,
white bridal gowns signify purity and
innocence, and red traffic signs mean
stop or danger.
The color of your clothes can also
speak volumes. Would you be more con-
frontational with a customer-service rep-
resentative who is dressed in white or
black? Would you feel safer with a doctor
wearing a navy tie or a bright orange
one? Who would you choose as a finan-
cial advisor, a woman in a blue suit or
one in hot pink?
The colors we wear can be reassur-
ing, unsettling, or energizing. While there
are no good” or “bad” colors, we can
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175 Size : 171.45(w)228.6(h)mm Co : M8 C6Q3 O/P: V2
Dept : DTP D/O : 04.10.03 (Job no:59657C1 D/O : 06.11.03 Co: CM8)
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make distinct choices to help us commu-
nicate more effectively. That is true not
only in fashion, but also in home decor,
advertising, graphics, product design,
and retail environments.
For example, are guests yawning at
your dinner parties? It may not be the
company if your dining room walls are
painted lavender, a color that encourages
daydreaming and dozing.
Looking for more than a cost-of-liv-
ing raise at work? Wear an article of red
clothing several times a week prior to
your year-end review. As the most mem-
orable and eye-catching of all colors, red
will get you noticed and your boss
will be much more likely to remember
your ideas.
Since color unconsciously influences
people every day, theres a great advan-
tage to understanding how and why
these reactions occur. What follows is
a detailed explanation of the physical
responses we have to each color, along
with the most common psychological
associations. Also included are sugges-
tions on how best to use this information
in a variety of artistic, business, and
lifestyle applications.
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