OUR LIVES IN COLOR
Updated: Mar 11
This is an article “Our Lives in Color” by Marc Primo Warren
Most of us have already assigned color to our everyday lives. Every gender reveal party has it that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. We are intimately familiar with our color association standards that there’s no denying how significant they are in our lives. However distinct our lifestyles are, some colors have been lodged into our minds that it’s hard to change how we view them.
However, there is certainly more to every color than what most of us already know. Despite having limited research available on how colors really affect our behavior, the science of color is simply an interesting subject worth studying.
Here are some of the most recent discoveries about color you probably haven’t heard of yet:
We process color in two tiers
One of the most discoveries in the study of color is how it affects our cognitive psychology in both the lower and higher levels of our thoughts. Low level receptiveness simply connotes to our gut feelings when we see a color and anything beyond that triggers a more profound and intelligent view on its real use.
As an example, we usually associate pink with anything feminine when we use our gut feel, but on a deeper level of thought, a shade of pink could also cause physical effects within our body such as a slower heart rate or lower muscle strength. This was discovered by a researcher named Alexander Schauss back in the late ‘70s who then applied his theory in a correctional environment to induce calm among inmates. The effects were more attributed to color associations than an innate human response to the color.
Although pink became a color for femininity, it shouldn’t also be associated with weakness as how it was characterized back in the ‘40s. Going back to Schauss’s theory, the power of pink can also modify how males behave or sometimes even feel that their masculinity may be threatened when surrounded with the color.
Color associations can differ geographically
Humans have long established color associations that can never be altered again. Gold is the best when it comes to standards, green is for money, and red is for stoplights. These colors in the visible spectrum have made a stronghold in our minds, regardless of our own personal and individual experiences.
However, each person also has their own take on how they see color. A lady dressed in red may not be attractive to every male who sees her just as how some oceans may be perceived as green than blue.
Professor and psychologist Andrew Elliot together with his student Adam Pazda once led a team of researchers on how the color red factors in the way males and females interact geographically. They discovered that it served as a non-verbal language bridge across some nations. For example, males in Burkina Faso in West Africa are more easily attracted to ladies in red dresses despite having negative associations in general. The same also applies to the U.S. according to the study which makes red a somewhat universal color in terms of human attraction depending on geography.
On the other hand, Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and India give red a whole different meaning when it comes to male ideologies. Most wedding dresses in these territories come in red to signify good fortune, happiness, and pure love, according to the book Signs and Symbols (as edited by Neil Lockley Edited by Kim Dennis-Bryan, Edited by Nicola Hodgson in 2008).
In contrast, white has been the symbol of feminine purity and chastity in Western countries during the 18th century as well as in the Japanese kimono wherein the color symbolizes innocence.
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