How Colors (Do Not) Influence Our Mental Health and Behaviour


Colors

Color is an eye's perception feature of different light waves. By capturing this or that energy influence, the eye transmits information to the brain, where a certain brain center is excited, which is responsible for different emotions, for different mental states.

The famous Swiss psychotherapist Max Luscher developed the so-called Luscher Color Test in the middle of the 20th century. The subject needs to arrange eight colors in descending order, demonstrating what he likes more and what less. This test allows you to determine the state of a person at the moment, shows what is happening in his soul, what he gravitates towards, what he is afraid of, what problems he has at the moment.

The sense of color is not available to all animals on Earth. Birds and primates have a full multi-colored vision, the rest distinguish only some shades. The multi-spectral vision developed in the process of evolution allowed a person to receive a huge amount of information about the world around him. The visual cortex is capable of recognizing thousands of colors and shades. There are three colors, the so-called primary colors, to which the eye reacts immediately: red, green, and blue. Although not all people are able to distinguish colors, according to statistics, 8% of men do not have the ability to perceive colors, 0.5% of women have color blindness.

Our perception of colors is influenced by various external conditions: sunlight or electric, natural fire. The eye adapts to the light source in different ways. In some people, idiosyncrasy occurs - this is a genetically determined reaction in response to a certain nonspecific stimulus. For example, a person cannot perceive some products or colors for unknown reasons. Some people cannot eat orange fruits and vegetables. Napoleon Bonaparte never rode white horses. But in general, dislike for certain colors is a rather serious thing. If the color at home does not suit a person, this can cause internal discomfort, up to the development of serious diseases: irritability, depression, insomnia, anxiety disorders.

Sometimes colors are used in treating depression, anxiety, or while quitting alcohol. In those cases, colors can indeed be a nice addition but will never be enough. So better have a consultation with a therapist if you have mental health issues or find information on quitting drinking on AddictionResource.

How exactly colors affect the psyche

The color therapy method has been known since ancient times. For example, it is scientifically proven that color can regulate the desire to eat. If you want to eat less or stop drinking alcohol, hang in the kitchen as many pictures in which there are blue and purple colors or screw in a blue light bulb, lay a black tablecloth on the table. All of these colors help reduce appetite.

Do you want to stimulate your working condition? You need purple and red. Those who are persecuted by depression or quit drinking are advised to wear yellowish glasses.

In medicine, colors are used for treatment to affect the psychophysiological state of a person. Red can have a positive effect on a person due to its stimulating properties, but with prolonged exposure, it gives a negative effect. Sometimes it even raises the temperature. Yellow is encouraging. The color of cheerfulness, warmth, sun, therefore it is often used in advertising. Orange adjusts to communication, easy rapprochement. Gray evokes a sense of neatness, restraint. Purple can cause anxiety, while for someone, on the contrary, it increases efficiency. Blue relieves tension, soothes, and can reduce the heart rate. Black helps people better concentrate, avoid many mistakes, and focuse attention. Green and white are neutral colors that do not have a strong effect on the human psyche. Although green is calming, it is believed to normalize high blood pressure.

However, you should perceive these examples rather conditionally since the influence of colors also depends on temperament, on the properties of a person's character. For example, there are people who absolutely do not need to surround themselves with the colors of the red group but should replace them with shades of the cold group. For secretive people, shy ones, it will be useful to support themselves with a group of orange, yellow tones. It is better for older people and children to maintain bright and light shades in the space where they live. Children need a bright color without fail, as it stimulates their mental, intellectual development.

Biology or evolution?

Our color preferences are based on internal biological mechanisms, largely due to evolution. The researchers hypothesized that color associations could have been formed in the early stages of human history, when a person associated blue with night and, accordingly, with passivity and bright yellow with the sun and activity.

But why do we still face the stereotype that men prefer blue and women like pink? The researchers argue that this difference follows from evolutionary changes in the minds of people during the hunting and gathering era.

In those days, women needed to see red and yellow fruits among green foliage to find food. In the future, this factor influenced the formation of color preferences in the next generations of women.

The ability to perceive color, and in particular the ability to discriminate the wavelength of red, may have been of greater adaptive value to gatherers (i.e., women) than to guardians of stocks (i.e., men), leading to the formation of modern visual tastes and preferences.

Sometimes it doesn't work

You could have heard that pink is associated with happiness and compassion, some people could call it feminine. Many psychologists experimented with pink, trying to find a practical use for it, and finally, the so-called Cool Down Pink appeared. This eye-pleasing shade of pink, developed by Daniela Shpet, was used in several prisons in Switzerland for repainting the prisoners' cells. They tried to apply color therapy not only in the Peshvis prison (canton of Zurich). In the canton of Graubünden, the Realta prison tried to ennoble the inner world of prisoners in the same way, but two years later they repainted all the premises in a neutral gray-white color, according to Tribune de Geneve.

Thomas Knoll, former Enforcement Officer in Peshvis and now Director of the Swiss Correctional Staff Training Center, said in a radio interview: "We saw almost no effect from the pink cell. If the influence can be noticed, then it is extremely weak and does not justify the effort." He mentioned one cell because there is indeed only one pink cell in Peshvis. And there were several dozen aggressive prisoners, whose behavior was watched by the guards for a year and a half. The experiment was conducted as follows: thirty people were placed at different times in the pink cell, the other thirty remained in standard "apartments." The behavior of the participants in the experiment was compared on the first and third day of the experiment, but the observation protocols showed almost no difference.

Testing is done in other prisons as well. The pioneer of repainting in pink was The Pfäffikon prison (canton of Zurich) - back in 2006. A prison in Ham commune in the canton of Zug has recently set up a pink cell. There are about twenty such rooms in the German-speaking cantons and only half a dozen in Romanian Switzerland.

Psychologist Isabel Müller also uses colors in her work but believes that simply repainting the walls is not enough; it is also necessary to carry out individual work with prisoners using color pictures.


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