The Psychology of Color

By Anne Christine Tooley

Whether we recognize it or not, color influences the choices we make in our lives and the perceptions and judgments we make. Colors are all around us: in our living and work spaces, nature, the clothes we wear, and even the foods we eat. Color affects how we feel about ourselves and the world. Whether we are consciously aware of them or not, colors do have an effect on our thoughts and emotions.

We tend to perceive something as “good” depending on the colors we are attracted to, while we tend to judge something as “bad” based on colors we do not like. And this can change depending on where, when, and how the colors are presented. What is perceived as “good” or “bad” can also be influenced by cultural differences, age, and gender.

Color is often used in the world outside our homes to persuade us to behave in a certain way. Marketing companies use color to persuade us to purchase their products. Fast food restaurants usually use the warm colors of red, orange, and yellow, which stimulate our appetite and encourage us to eat fast. Prisons have found that rooms painted bright pink calm prisoners. If you understand how colors affect you, then you can consciously choose colors to improve and enrich your life.

Your attraction to color is a mirror of what you actually need in any given moment. By trusting your intuitive choices, you will automatically receive what you need. You may only need to immerse yourself in a color you are attracted to for a short time, say for the day. Other times, you find you are repeatedly attracted to a particular color; it is that color that will assist you in a particular stage of your life. Colors that you have loved most of your life are the colors to consider for the places where you spend most of your time such as home and work, and then refining appropriate colors for each space.

For example, you may want to paint your bedroom walls in “cool” colors of turquoises or blues promoting relaxation, while using “warm” colors in your kitchen area such as terra cotta red, golds, or warm yellows, which are more stimulating. For work, you may pick a red suit for an important meeting, implying you are well-prepared and ready to take charge. If you choose blue, perhaps you want to project that you are professional and committed.


On a day with few distractions, find an object, room, or environment in a predominantly single color and keep it in your immediate visual view for several hours. During this time, make notes about how you feel physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Also note if these feelings change during the time period of the exercise. Do you like the color? How do you feel when you gaze at the color? Do you feel afraid, happy, sad, angry, alert, tired, focused, distracted, ambivalent, creative, calm, joyful, terrified, excited, shameful, depressed, extroverted, introverted, etc.

Orange, for example, could evoke a feeling of creativity or depression, while violet could evoke daydreaming or grieving. You get the idea. It could be single words, phrases, or lengthy descriptions. Note anything that comes to you. Do this exercise separately for each of the six pigment colors on different days. You may think this is
a very simplistic exercise, but if you haven’t done it before, especially in a conscious way, I promise that it will be quite revealing and give you color tools to enhance your life.

After completing the exercise above, delve into the unlimited resources of information about color qualities to understand the universal properties of each color. I recommend books on my website, and the internet is a wealth of information. Compare the qualities determined by each author with what you felt about that color. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Trust that your impressions are true specifically to you at this time in your life. And also know that your feelings about a particular color can refine and even change over time.

Daily, become conscious and aware of the full spectrum of colors around you. Immerse yourself in direct sunlight for twenty or thirty minutes per day (full spectrum of all colors), notice wall paint, home decor, foods, clothes, light bulb type (look for full spectrum), and bed sheets you sleep in for one third of your life!

After you discover how the six basic colors affect you personally, your world opens up to infinite possibilities to use color consciously for your mood, ambience, nutrition, spiritual enlightenment, or just for pure pleasure. Color will become your constant ally to enrich your environment and your life.

Anne Christine Tooley has studied, researched, practiced, and taught Vibrational Energy Medicine since 1991. She resides in North Carolina and may be reached at and Comments and questions are welcome!