Why Colors Affect Your Mood?

Colors are a very important part of our life. We often spend large resources in terms of time and energy to find the combination that would suit us best. Ever thought why these colors affect our mood so strongly? These rays of light which only slightly differ in their wavelength differ enormously in terms of reactions that they evoke.
Why Colors Affect Your Mood?
Source - Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APolarlicht_2.jpg)

Colors have very strong effect on your mood and comfort. Their impact is stronger sometimes than even physical comforting aids. Imagine yourself in a small room painted with hot red, and imagine how you would feel on being told that you have to stay there for a month. Now imagine yourself entering another room painted with white. What do you feel different in a white room than a hot red room is a subject that has been thoroughly researched but still not wholly understood.

What Colors Mean to You ?

Colors are actually nothing but waves of light that different in their

wavelength and carry more or less similar amounts of energy. Our eyes have a unique capability of differentiating their wavelength. Using this characteristic we identify colors and relate these colors to the objects and surroundings that we can see.

A green colored leaf indicates that it is fresh, whereas a brown colored leaf suggests it is not so. A blue colored sky tells us that the likelihood of rain is negligible, while from a sky covered with dark clouds, we are to anticipate rains. Colors serve to tell us much about our surrounding, impending events, safety and a lot more. This is why colors are always so important to us. In all fine Arts, there is a huge stress on use of appropriate colors to depict the emotions and moods one wishes to convey.  There is also a Color Theory that gives a lot of detailed explanation for using colors. However, the question remains: why most people react to colors in a similar way, even when their individual experiences might have been very different?

Colors and the Theory of Collective Unconscious

Karl Jung, the renowned psychologist first used the term, Collective Unconscious. It describes a phenomenon that has been frequently observed and more or less unanimously accepted by the experts about the collective memory of the human race. The concept is that in addition to the individual memory, there is a memory that we all inherit from birth, and which is a collection of the experiences of our ancestors over the long history of human race.

For example, the fear of darkness that is observed in children is not because the child has been harmed in the dark earlier. It is instinctive because of the dangers the human race have faced over several millennia of its existence from nature. The fear from darkness is not related with a fear from attack by any particular species. Instead, it is very general in nature, as can be explained by the fact that during the earlier existence of humanity, there were many dangers that kept lurking in the dark and from whose attacks, the humanity had to suffer.

The collective unconscious is a common memory stock of all human beings, but may depend somewhat on regions, races and their historical backgrounds. It is still not scientifically understood, but its existence is difficult to deny. Colors

and their effect on our mood is also part of this collective unconscious. When we see a particular color, it brings back collective memories stored in our collective unconscious and we react to those memories. This is also the reason why our reaction to a colored object is different than our reaction to a background consisting of that color. In our past, a color of a background like sky or earth emanates and indicates something very different than the color of a small object, like stone, flower, tree, animal or insect.

Red as Color of an Object vs. Red background

Red is a color that usually evokes strong reactions. Let us try to understand it with the concept of collective unconscious. Red is the color normally associated in nature with blood, though it is also the color of some flowers. Imagine a pre-historic human community, and think when they would be confronted with red. Obviously, the occasions that expose red to humans are related with bloodletting. One usual scenario that leads to blood spilling around is violence, either by nature, or by different species or from a confrontation among humans themselves. Bloodshed is alarming. If a person sees blood being spilled, the reaction is to either run or be prepared to fight. No doubt then that red invariably makes us react strongly. It alarms, it arouses and it makes us ready, for whatever may come forth. Such reactions to red are far more alarming when we are confronted with red background. Our collective unconscious relates it with massive bloodshed, something that is highly dangerous and uncomforting. Thus, even a room painted with hot red paint can be quite discomforting even though there is no apparent danger to our existence there.

Interestingly, there is another experience of blood associated with human history, and that is menstruation from the female body. This has an impact which is very different. It suggests an opportunity for sex and reproduction. No surprise then that red is a favourite among female dressing, especially when it relates to young women and marriages. In many cultures, red is the color worn by females during the wedding ceremony. But even where it is not, red is a favourite color for female dressing. As the collective unconscious correlated red with menstruating females, red is not a great favourite of male dressing anywhere in the world, a fact that confirms to the association between effect of colors and the collective unconscious. On a man, red color still looks as uncomfortable and out of place as blood spots would have seemed on a man ages ago in a jungle.
No doubt, men love red but don’t wear it.

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