We like to associate colors with our mood, saying we “feel blue” when we are sad or that we “see red” when we are angry. But, did you know that color actually plays a large role in influencing your emotions? It might seem like we just see colors. However, colors also work as emotional triggers when perceived and interpreted by our brains. Because of this, it is important to choose the colors you surround yourself with care to ensure that the emotions you are interpreting benefit you the most.

Know the Emotions Colors Cause

Obviously, there are an innumerable amount of colors to choose from. Because of this, it is important to know the key colors and their meanings. Once you know these colors, interpreting other colors and how they interact with one another will be like reading words on a page! These four colors, also known as the primary psychological colors are red, blue, yellow, and green. Each of these colors has its own meaning and use. These can then be altered to encourage emotions of different intensities and complexities.


While red is often associated with anger, it’s main emotional output is actually just highly energetic. The color red raises adrenaline, gets our hearts, pumping, and is encourages quick decision making. It is because of this that red is such a grabbing color, and why red can make you feel powerful and confident when you wear it.


You might think that blue is a sad color. However, blue has calming effects and encourages concentration. Because of this, blue is the perfect color to use if you need to encourage focus. When you are working on something that requires a lot of effort or if you need a color that will help you and others collaborate more easily, blue is the perfect color.


One of the strongest of the primary psychological colors, yellow should be used carefully and precisely. It encourages energy and positivity making it a highly inspirational color. It’s intensity also means that yellow can be a stressful color. Yellow encourages quickness (much like red), but this can easily be overdone and cause overstimulation.


You probably already know that green is a calming color. It encourages quiet and ease because it is easy for the brain to interpret. These properties make green a good color to use when you need reassurance and stress relief.

Consider Intensity and Saturation

While there are only four major colors to worry about, each shade of those colors has a different effect on the color’s emotional output. This might make choosing the correct colors overwhelming, but it actually makes it much easier. For instance, if you feel like a space needs more positivity, you would likely want to use the color yellow to encourage that emotion. However, if you also know that same space is already highly energetic, you might consider using less yellow, or using a shade of yellow that is less vibrant to prevent accidentally creating a stressful environment. In the same way, you can manipulate the color green to ensure that a place is quiet but not sleepy or calm but not overbearing. The intensity of the emotion you want to encourage affects the intensity of the hue and saturation of the color perfect for your goals.

Combine Colors for More Complex Effects

Each of the primary psychological colors has a meaning and a use. These uses only multiply when you combine the colors! You can do this in two ways. You can combine the colors to create a third multi-use color, or you can use two of the primary colors in the same space. For instance, a blue space used for focusing could also benefit from a yellow or an orange to encourage inspiration. Combining colors to make a new color is especially useful if you want to dull a colors effects or use one color for more than one effect. In a physical space, you want to encourage energy and confidence. This would likely lead you to the color red. However, red can be stressful, so you could tone it down and use pink instead.

It’s hard to believe that colors have such an incredible impact on us! Yet, knowing the impact and a color’s uses is more beneficial than just gauging colors based on preference. This is especially true when designig public spaces, productive space, and even outfits. How will you use color to encourage more efficient action and motivation?


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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.