Color Language — Effects of color on our perception and behaviour

Keynote Speaker TEDx "Color your Mind" Kiel University 12.11.2017

More than 500 probands have taken part in the world's largest psychological study on the effects of colors on human perception and behavior. During the time period of more than 5 years we evaluated more than 1 million images. The findings of the study are reflected in 13 Color-Memory-Maps, which mirrors the associative network of the brain. Color memory reflects the personal experiences of people

Research Project Framework

Meth­ods: empir­i­cal obser­va­tions and psy­cho­log­i­cal exper­i­ments
Probands: 500 peo­ple
Peri­od: 5 years
Obser­va­tion Mate­r­i­al: 1 mil­lion pic­tures
Direc­tor of research: Prof. Dr. Axel Buether, Chair Visu­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Wup­per­tal Uni­ver­si­ty
Research Assis­tant: Heike Krauss, Col­or Light Space Research Lab Wup­per­tal

The effects of colors

Our mem­o­ry deter­mines what a col­or means to us and how colours affect our thoughts and feel­ings. Col­ors deter­mine the expe­ri­ence of our self and the envi­ron­ment. They influ­ence our behav­ior and con­trol our actions, even though we rarely rec­og­nize the caus­es.

We feel the “pow­er of col­ors” when we are attract­ed or repelled from the appear­ance of peo­ple, things and spaces. We only see beau­ti­ful, ugly, deli­cious or dis­gust­ing col­ors, because our per­cep­tion is deter­mined by the pow­er of our mem­o­ries. Human bee­ings are col­or experts.

Every­one feels the effects of col­ors from birth with all its sens­es. Through tri­al and error, we learn to align our behav­ior suc­cess­ful­ly on the envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions of our nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al space. Col­or mem­o­ry forms an impor­tant part of our life expe­ri­ence and serves us as a reli­able basis for our actions. From a phys­i­o­log­i­cal­ly per­spec­tive we see only col­ors. Con­tent is gen­er­at­ed in the process of per­cep­tion from the sen­su­al mate­r­i­al of our mem­o­ries.

That is why we react  dis­ap­point­ed if some­thing is not behav­ing as promised by the col­or. We don’t like beau­ti­ful col­ors, that do not fit to us, when we dress up or design our Habi­tat. We don’t like deli­cious col­ors, which do not taste us, when we like to enjoy our meal. We respond angri­ly, when col­ors claim our atten­tion, but have no inter­est­ing mes­sage to tell. The qual­i­ties of a col­or or col­or com­po­si­tion should trans­fer the right mes­sage.

Color psychology

Col­or psy­chol­o­gy is based on the under­stand­ing of the effects of col­ors on the expe­ri­ence and behav­ior of peo­ple. Con­se­quences for the design and com­mu­ni­ca­tion process can be derived from an under­stand­ing of col­or mean­ing and col­or effects. Applied col­or psy­chol­o­gy pro­motes the func­tion­al­i­ty of design and the effec­tive­ness of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Suc­cess­ful col­or psy­chol­o­gy can help us to achieve con­crete tar­gets:

  1. Medi­a­tion of set mes­sages
  2. Obser­va­tion of desired behav­ior changes
  3. Obser­va­tion of desired actions
  4. Per­cep­tion of pos­i­tive emo­tions and feel­ings
  5. Accep­tance and sat­is­fac­tion tar­gets and tar­get groups


Home­page TEDx Orga­niz­er
Kiel Uni­ver­si­ty
Sci­ence Cen­tre Kiel
Frauen­hofer­straße 13
24103 Kiel

25.10.17 in Forschung, Wissenstransfer
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