Color is elegant. Color is dramatic.
It is exciting, captivating, defiant and absolutely
necessary in the aesthetically devoted world in which
we thrive. There are, however, ways in which color
affects and interacts with us of which we may not
be actively aware. Let us consider a psychological
perspective, shall we? There are infinite ways in
which color is an intrinsic and motivational facet
of our psyche – both individually and as a population.
From the clinical psychology and psychiatric arenas,
there are fascinating methods with which to view what
various colors and lights mean to us, and how that
differs from childhood, to adulthood, to the geriatric
stages. Everyday we are subject to the behind-the-scene
workings of industrial, human management sectors,
as well as manufacturing and marketing angles.
Does anyone remember that hysterical scene from
the 1990’s film, "Joe Vs. the Volcano"?
Tom Hanks plays "Joe," a disgruntled
and pathetically under appreciated paper-pusher in
the bowels, (no pun intended!) of an anal probe
factory. His office environment is deep underground,
barren and completely white- concrete blocks, ceiling
tiles, tortuous florescent lights, and, of course,
pile upon pile of paper- all stark white. One morning,
poor Joe could not take anymore and suffered a mental
breakdown. To an unsuspecting but never-the-less unimpressed
group of coworkers, he trembles and screams at the
top of his lungs, "These lights are sucking
the juice out of my eyeballs!!!" Although
humorous, this sad situation is one too many people
deal with on a daily basis.
In the 1940’s Dr. Hollwich and team started
a three-decade performance of experiments to evaluate
the effects of strong artificial light with considerable
deviation compared to minimal deviation on healthy
individuals. People who were exposed to high levels
of artificial light produced stressful levels of the
growth and hormone-producing hormone, ACTH.
They also showed above average amounts of the stress
hormone, cortisol. "Hollwich concluded that
this explains the agitated mental and physical behavior
of children who stay in school the whole day and are
subjected to artificial illumination that deviates
strongly from daylight."
So, what is taking place here is that when people
are exposed to extremely high levels of artificial
light, they experience a physiological response. Biologically
they produce excessive levels of hormones that are
associated with people in chronic high-stress situations,
such as mourning, or depression, or even patients
of fatal diseases. If you combine this with a white
environment, (or tones near it, it turns out)
the situation is a recipe for disaster. "As
early as 1947", Louis Cheskin wrote:
"White walls as we know, are an optical strain
and a psychological hazard."
There is a specific, however not unique, case of
a clinically depressed woman who loses her ability
to see color whenever her condition reoccurs. It may
help to explain this by designating how colors change
our moods, behaviors, physical and mental well being.
Logically, then, it stands to say that an unhealthy
person may be especially prone to experiencing either
heightened or depressed sensual perceptions. Think
about it: when we are feeling above average, and stop
to smell the roses, do they not smell sweeter than
normal? The same concept, and vice versa, hold true
with people suffering from psychological disorders.
Color perception and its psychological implications
are encompassed among all stages of life development
– especially childhood. As was mentioned in lecture,
children respond to color even before they respond
to shape. The importance of this is utilized when
analyzing children’s drawings for the sake of clinical
psychology. Color allows interpreters to access a
completely different insight into personality because
of color’s close relationship with emotion.
There are several different schematics used to
determine people’s utilization of specific color(s).
Following are two. The first was created in 1969 by
Luscher, and is more focused on psychological
aspects. The second is a more current model, put together
by Cooper Marketing Group, Inc., and although
is has some psychological perspective, it also incorporates
current social and professional tendancies.