We Might Be Hardwired for Certain Hues

color emotion

Is it possible that our brains are wired to like (or dislike) certain colors? It all relates to emotion responses when we see color. A study by Wellesley College researchers Stoughton and Bevil Conway links neural processes to color.

Conway, who is also an artist, is using his research to determine how the brain processes color and impacts our feelings about it. “I think it’s a very powerful system,” Conway said in an interview with Co.Design, “and it’s completely underexploited.”

The study further relates some of the things we already know – color context changes based on other colors in the field of vision and that emotion is a big factor when thinking about color.

The study found that “globs” in the brains of monkeys reacted differently to colored stimuli, and reacted based on color. The brain was most triggered by specific colors (red, then green, then blue) and colors with the most saturation. What this tells us is that these colors immediately impact a user and draw attention.

This work has significant implications for the creative community. “To the extent that anyone would find it informative to know how the nervous system works, and through that would gain an appreciation for these phenomena, I think artists and designers could benefit,” Conway said in the Co.Design interview. “This provides them with another lens through which to consider what they’re doing when they make those kinds of choices.”

Color Impacts Cognitive Performance

color emotion

Can color impact your ability to create? According to a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia, red can focus and help make a person’s work more accurate while blue can spur creativity.

While this on its face is fascinating, the results are harder for designer to use. The study really only looked at the colors red and blue. (Six hundred people participated in visual tests with words and images against red, blue or neutral backgrounds.)

But it does reinforce some of what we historically know about the colors. Red is a color of stimulation, while blue is more relaxing and calming. Could that have something to do with it?

It’s also important to consider context. Looking at words and images in an isolated environment can be different that when you are trying to connect a user to a brand, website or package. What this study does tell us is that color is important and even more so is the context used with that hue. Special thank you for the article please  read more at the Design Shack