Monthly Archives: September 2011

Va va voom

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Think of a fitted red dress.  What kind of person is the first to pop up in your mind wearing that dress?  Probably a seductress, or some kind of steamy, sexy woman?  Why do most people think sexy when they see a red dress?  Because red is associated with passionate love, overflowing power, lust, excitement, liberation, emergency, blood- all things that make your heart race and your blood pressure rise (which red has actually been found to do!)

The colors that someone wears affects our perception of them.  Movies realize this and have dressed their characters accordingly.  For example, think of Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”   She is the image of a sultry vixen, with her voluptuous figure highlighted in a flashy, sequined red dress that’s more a second skin than a dress.  She can’t walk past any man without having their jaws drop to the ground and steam pour out of their ears.  In the “Matrix,” Neo is distracted by a captivating woman in a red dress during a simulation.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Image via Wikipedia

Two University of Rochester psychologists, Andrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta, found in a study that the color red makes men more attracted to women.  In their experiments, they showed men a photograph of a woman and asked them to rate her attractiveness.  In some photos, the woman was wearing a red shirt.  In others, the same woman was wearing a blue shirt.  The woman in the red shirt was consistently rated more attractive and sexually desirable than the same woman in a blue shirt.  Guys were also more interested in dating the red-shirted woman, as well as wanting to spend more money on her in a date.  When the men were asked if the color of the woman’s shirt influenced their decisions, none said it did.  This shows that color indeed influences our opinions in a subconscious way.

But, there might be a more primitive reason for red being attractive.  Research shows that male primates are particularly attracted to females who display red.  Female baboons and chimpanzees turn red when they’re nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal to attract males.  Another theory is that back in the day of cavemen, red signaled that you were healthy and still had blood pumping in you- that you weren’t dead.  It signaled that a cave-babe wasn’t sick and capable of being a healthy mother.

But, it’s not only men that are more attracted to red.  A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that women found men in red clothing more attractive and desirable.  Ladies subconsciously saw men wearing red as having a higher status and earning a good salary.

Whether conjuring up thoughts of pouty red lips, police sirens, fire, or a matador’s cape, it can’t be denied that red attracts, repels, elevates, and enrages.  Try wearing red or bring it into your home or accessories and see how differently you feel and the world reacts to you!

Ever wonder why McDonald’s has kept the same red and yellow logo for years?

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Coming from a family of artists, I’ve always been fascinated with all the different colors there are.  I love colorful things, and I think the world just might be a happier place if there was more color in our lives.  As I grew older, I found myself wondering, “Why do we do the things we do?”  What things subconciously affect our decisions and influence our opinions?  Why is that I always feel so sleepy trying to study in my boyfriend’s room, which is almost completely blanketed in blue?  Why out of all the flowers there are, a field of yellow sunflowers makes me feel the happiest, and carefree like a child again?

The psychology, symbolism, and meanings of color are very much a part of our daily lives, whether we know it or not.  It can affect our appetite, mood, potential to get a task done, and the possibility of attracting the eye of a potential employer, or the gorgeous guy across the room…  I love color and am endlessly enchanted by all the different ways in which it affects our lives, as well the beauty of each distinct, unique color.

So, to start out, I’m going to post a short summary on basic colors and their meanings in the Western world (summarized from this website) and how it affects us mentally and physically.

Black:

  • authority, power, stability, strength
  • associated with intelligence, also evil
  • color of grieving
  • evokes strong emotions, can be very depressing and sinister
  • can make us feel inconspicious
  • mysterious evoking a sense of potential and possibility
White:
  • purity, cleanliness, neutrality
  • aids mental clarity
  • encourages us to clear clutter/obstacles
  • enables fresh beginnings
  • associated with creativity (white boards, blank slates)
Gray:
  • timeless, practical, solid
  • associated with loss, depression, old age, feelings of nothing
  • unsettling
Red:
  • draws attention
  • increases enthusiasm
  • color of energy, movement, and excitement
  • encourages action and confidence
  • the symbol of life, the color of love and sexuality
  • most appetizing color
Blue:
  • causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming
  • can also feel cold and uncaring
  • associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom, loyalty
  • cooling
  • can help people to stay calm and be focused
Green:
  • color of growth, nature, money
  • causes the least eye fatigue because it is easy to process
  • soothing
  • helps alleviate depression, nervousness, anxiety
  • offers a sense of renewal, self-control, and harmony
  • but also color of envy
Yellow:
  • optimism, enlightenment, happiness
  • mentally stimulating
  • encourages communication
  • brain actually releases more serotonin when you see yellow
  • stimulates the nervous system
  • shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a better future
  • can also represent caution and cowardice
Orange:
  • warmth, energy, ambition
  • stimulates activity and appettite
  • associated with a new dawn in attitude
Purple:
  • wealth, prosperity, rich sophistication
  • stimulates the area of the brain used in problem solving
  • calms the mind and nerves
  • encourages creativity
  • offers a sense of spirituality
Brown:
  • stability, reliability, approachability
  • color of the earth- associated with things that are natural/organic
  • feeling of wholesomeness
  • offers a sense of orderliness
English: McDonalds' sign in Harlem.

Image via Wikipedia

Now that you’ve read a little bit about color psychology, you can probably guess that McDonalds uses red and yellow in their logo because red is known to evoke hunger and raise blood pressure, and yellow stimulates the appetite because it is related to happiness and comfort.

Here’s a really interesting quiz that tells you about your personality- what you’re current mindset is, what problems are bothering you, what things make you stress out, etc.  Of course this isn’t psychologist-certified or anything, but the results are actually strangely close to the truth!  Try it out- it only takes a few minutes!  And who knows, maybe it’ll even give you some insight into problems you’ve been pushing further and further into the back of your mind…

Take the color quiz!