The Psychology of Paint Colors

calander May 8 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

How Paint Colors Affect Psychology

Have you ever entered a room and suddenly felt a change in your mood? The colors applied by interior painting contractors may have something to do with that.

The human mind is complex and multifaceted -- many factors play a role in determining how we feel from moment to moment, both emotionally and physically. Even something as seemingly insignificant as the colors surrounding us can make us feel a range of emotions. Indeed, a room’s paint job may be the primary reason for said mood change. But what psychological effects do specific colors have on us, and why? Here we’ll explore the psychology of paint colors.

Context, Culture, and Color

The jury is still out on the science of color psychology. While plenty of people are interested in this field, empirical data and conclusions are difficult to generate, perhaps because each of us reacts to visual information somewhat differently -- our exact response to colors is highly subjective, and may even change from one instance to the next. Still, some researchers think that culture and context have a lot to do with how we react to certain colors.

People who grow up in one environment might express different feelings toward a given color than those who grew up elsewhere. In the U.S., for instance, we tend to associate black and gray with mourning, depression, and negative thoughts, which is why many homeowners and business owners ask their interior painting services to avoid these colors. Of course, these shades may have different connotations in other parts of the world and may be more prevalent as a result.

The Role of Brightness and Saturation

Putting cultural context aside, some research suggests that broadly speaking, certain qualities of colors, namely their brightness and saturation, have a lot to do with our emotional responses to them. In other words, a given color may affect us differently depending on how dark or light it is, or if it’s more or less muted.

Your local interior painters can tell you that lighter hues tend to make rooms look and feel bigger, which can make some people feel more open and free and others feel small and anxious. Darker hues tend to figuratively shrink a space, which can make some feel closed-in, and others cozy. Highly saturated colors are more eye-catching and therefore energizing or irritating, depending on who you ask, while muted colors tend to recede into the background, which may bore some people but have a calming effect on others.

So, while the brightness and saturation of a color have an objective impact on the look and feel of a space, our responses are still subjective, based on circumstance, our personal experiences, and cognitive wiring. If this wasn’t the case, commercial and residential painting services would likely use the same color palettes for every job.

The Psychological Effects of Particular Paint Colors

It’s also worth noting that specific colors have been associated with certain moods and behaviors. Once again, everyone is different, but let’s go over these generalized associations:

  • Red: draws attention, may increase heart rate, induce attraction, stimulate angry and/or passionate responses
  • Green: associated with creativity, innovation, and aspirational thinking
  • Blue: tends to have a calming effect, though also associated with sadness and isolation
  • Yellow: draws attention, associated with feelings of joy and warmth, though it can quickly overstimulate and irritate the eyes when highly saturated and bright
  • Purple: associated with high-class status, evokes feelings of softness and tranquility
  • Orange: promotes an energetic response, exhibits warmth and sweetness, and may stimulate one’s appetite

There are, of course, more colors to list and more potential responses, but the ones listed here should give you some idea of how certain colors can affect our way of thinking and acting.

Why Does Any of This Matter?

Even having a basic understanding of the possible psychological effects of colors is useful when designing or redesigning residential and commercial spaces. If you’re a homeowner, you want your property to be as comfortable and welcoming as possible while adhering to your personal preferences. And if you own a business, you want an environment conducive to maintaining productivity, promoting creativity, and retaining customers. As it turns out, the colors you choose play a major role in achieving these goals.

While color psychology is complex and highly variable, it’s worth keeping in mind when picking colors for your property. And if you need additional help choosing colors, work with a Nashville painting company that’s happy to be a part of this process. At Nash Painting, our experienced painters can aid you in interior and exterior color selection so you feel confident in your choices.

To find out more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!