Final 1: How Color Affects Mood

This topic submitted by Abby Hoicowitz, Annie McNerney, Lamour Hudson, and Rhett McCoy ( at 4:21 pm on 10/21/99. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins

How Color Affects Mood
By Abby Hoicowitz, Annie McNerney, Lamour Hudson, and Rhett McCoy


Does color affect mood? If so, which colors cause which moods? How do the use and placement of colors play a role in daily life? Our group plans to discover the answers to these questions as well as many others. Through the basic actions and attitudes of our peers, we plan to prove that colors do affect mood in both positive and negative ways.

1. Introduction

Why are most classroom walls and hospital room walls generally painted with neutral colors, such as beige, tan, light green, or light blue? Why are certain colors, most often bright, used in sports arenas? Our group plans on answering these questions through investigations and surveys of our peers. This project seemed like a wonderful idea because mood is very important in school, the work place, and in daily life. Therefore, it is pertinent to understand how color affects mood. Furthermore, three out of four of our group members are architecture majors, and color and its impact are of great interest to us.

We plan to use six specific colors to see which ones bring out aggression, relaxation, energy, etc. in a person. We hope that through careful collection of data, a pattern will be evident in how moods relate to colors. This research is relevant as well as of interest to everyone who can see colors because every daily act involves color. Color is everywhere, and however simple it may seem, it affects us all in ways we can never completely know.

2. Relevance of your research question

There has been very much written on color and how it affects mood as well as behavior. For example, Nancy J. Stone and Anthony J. English say that change in mood may in fact be the result of color in the environment. They also say that color can affect performance in the work place. They believe that a red office is more stimulating, may cause vigor, anger, or tension in a worker. However, on the positive side, performance can also be increased. According to Stone and English, a blue office may cause greater depression, as well as sadness, fatigue, or relaxation. This is because warm colors such as red have a longer wavelength and are thus more stimulating, while cool colors such as blue have a shorter wavelength and are thus more sedative.

Stone and English also studied how other colors affect mood, such as pink, white, green, and violet. They found that green causes anger and confusion and violet causes sadness and fatigue. Moreover, while students claimed that a white office is appropriate and not distracting, it is in fact the opposite. Workers in a white office complained of more headaches and instances of nausea than workers in red or blue offices. In addition, classroom testing showed that a pink classroom caused greater strength in the children, blue rooms caused the most weakness, and gray was somewhere in between. Also, in a pink room the children painted positive pictures. In a blue room, the paintings were more negative. Stone and English concluded that color definitely affects mood, yet the extent and details are still very unclear.

The authors of Impact of Three Interior Color Schemes on Worker Mood and Performance Relative to Individual Environmental Sensitivity also say that color affects mood. They explain that red, blue, and green create the most obvious results. They say that white does not usually test well because it is a neutral and common color. They also said that red causes alertness and high excitement, while blue causes relaxation and low excitement. Finally, the authors also say that blue and green cause feelings of security and tenderness.
Our group also found a lot of information from internet sources. For instance, Starr Walker says that "colors are neither good or bad but, they do influence the human psyche." She goes on to say that this is because of the different vibration levels of colors. Red has a much higher vibration level than black, while clear bright colors are more positive and emit a higher vibration. Dark or muddy colors give off a lower vibration. Walker says that the colors that a person chooses to wear can affect their mental state. The following are her interpretations of colors:

White = purity and clarity; red = power and strength; pink = sensitivity and love; orange = stimulation; yellow/gold = energy; green = harmony in mind, body, and soul; blue = healing and calmness; violet = spirituality; brown = earth like; and black = depression and seduction.

Finally, other information from the internet states that a person's cultural background and traditions influence their response to color. Many Middle Eastern countries view blue as protective and paint their front doors blue to ward off evil spirits. Therefore, people raised with this idea would feel a great sense of safety in the color blue.

Our research relates to the real world because there has obviously been an enormous amount of research on color relating to moods. A person's mood affects several factors, including the moods of those around them. Therefore, it is very important to see which colors cause which moods. This will hopefully give our peers greater knowledge on colors and moods, as many of them are architecture or interior design majors.

3. Materials and Methods

To collect the data needed to determine which colors cause which moods, we plan on handing out 120 surveys to our peers as well as people on main campus. There will be 20 surveys printed on red paper, 20 on orange paper, 20 on yellow paper, 20 on green paper, 20 on blue paper, and 20 on black paper. We will hand out 10 of each color to males and 10 of each color to females. There are four multiple-choice questions and one free response question; none that ask anything about color (see attached survey). There are six choices after each of the multiple-choice questions, one corresponding to a characteristic of one of the six colors. Hopefully, the answers given will be affected by the background color on which the answers are written. We feel that twenty surveys for each color is sufficient for unbiased results. The students will not know the reason for the test, and they therefore will not be jaded by this knowledge. Further, we are going to test an equal number of males as females and main campus students as well as western students. When giving out the surveys, each person will have five minutes to fill them out so that time is consistent. We will also ask the students to fill them out as we wait so that they will not lose or forget the surveys.

The attached survey will be given to the 120 students (without the color coding of course) on red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or black paper from Copy Nation uptown. After collecting all of the surveys, our group will put a "+" by the questions in which the answer corresponds to the color of the paper and put an "x" by the answers that do not. We will then count how many plusses the females received and then count how many the males received. We will calculate the ratio of "+" to "x" and see if these colors do truly affect mood in the way that we found in our research. If not, we will see if there are dominant moods corresponding with other colors.

We will include the class in our study by giving them surveys, but since they will be reading this lab packet, they may affect how the results of their surveys come out. If we are unable to do this, we will ask them to instead hand out surveys and collect them as well. However, we will make the calculations to be sure that they are correct. No matter what, the class will definitely be involved in our project.

The following is a timeline for the collecting of our data:

October 20, 1999- go to Copy Nation uptown to make the copies of the surveys on the colored paper
October 22, 1999- begin asking people to take the surveys while we wait. We will give out 20 surveys a day for 6 days.
October 29, 1999- have 120 completed surveys of which we will derive calculations from
November 9, 1999- Discovery Lab Manual 3 (our group teaches class)

4. Results

Our group has not started giving out surveys yet, so we do not have any results to give thus far. However, once we have the 120 surveys completed, we will be able to calculate the mean, median, mode, and standard deviation of our data. We will also make bar graphs comparing male response to female response as well as color to mood. This will be of use to us because we will then be able to tell how often the color of the paper affected the mood of the person.

5. Discussion and Conclusions

After we have completed the survey process and calculated the data, everything will be much clearer. Our group will be able to decipher our findings to see if color
actually does affect mood.


All About Color-Color Information and Trends. October 17, 1999,

English, Anthony J. and Nancy J. Stone. Task Type, Posters, and Workspace Color on Mood, Satisfaction, and Performance. Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska: Department of Psychology, Volume 18 Issue 2 1998.

Keltner, Dacher. "Appeasement in Human Emotion, Social Practice, and Personality."
Ohio Link 23 (1997): 359-374.

Kwallek, N., Lewis, C.M., Sales, C., and Woodson, H. Impact of Three Interior Color Schemes on Worker Mood and Performance Relative to Individual Environmental Sensitivity. Color Research and Application, Volume 22 Issue 2 1997.

Pfaus, James G. "Frank A. Beachward: Hormones+Behavior."v309(1996):186-200.

Plaud, Joseph J. "Human Behavioral Momentum: Implications for applied behavior analystic therapy." OhioLink v27 (1996):139-148.

Sato, Thomasa. "Robotic Room: symbiosis with Humans Through Behavioral Media." Ohio link 18 (1996): 185-194

Tyron,WarrenW." Synthesizing Animal and Human Behavior research via neural network learning theory." OhioLink26(1995):303-312.

Walker, Starr. Healing With Color. Phases Spring: Temple of the Triple Goddess, 1999.

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