January 28, 2009

January 28, 2009
The Psychology Behind Paint Color

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and it has been a very busy day for me. First, I am in the process of buying a used car and having to get everything arranged to do hopefully tomorrow afternoon. I finally reached the point where using public transportation and taxis has become cost prohibitive and my doctors have finally given me clearance to start driving again after my last stroke.

Then I called Walter to discuss the two signs we are having made for the project. We are doing two projects at several events this year where people can get their pictures taken with Dab the AIDS Bear and/or join "I'm One in a Million" and share their story about being HIV positive. So Walter is designing and making two signs to help promote our two initiatives.

Then it was time for a protein shake and my daily workout. Today was butt, abs and legs and was a very hard workout which I will be sore from tomorrow. But at least my body is starting to respond to all the weights. After my last stroke, I lost almost 35 pounds of muscle and desperately trying to get back in shape before my birthday at the end of March.

But on to today's subject about how paint color can affect your mood psychologically. Our project office did not have a color scheme per se. The walls and carpet featured a shade of dirty gray known as “I-have-no-hope,” the metal staircase was painted “dead-body” gray, and the dropped ceiling was done in “dingy-Styrofoam-flecked-with-debris” white. When I toiled in this grim warren, I didn’t know anything about the effect of color on mood. And while dirty beige probably can’t be held completely accountable for the mass depression that permeated the office, lately I’ve started to wonder: Was it a coincidence that while working in these dank, colorless surroundings my friend and his partner split up, three employees made a habit of leaving mid-afternoon, and I took to wearing a shapeless gray sweatpants?

Alternative health practitioners, though, have long been attuned to the power of color. Their mission might not sound as technical as Mahnke’s, but they also believe that color can affect a person’s state of mind and perhaps even his or her health. Like aromatherapy, color awareness work teaches people to use an often overlooked aspect of their senses to promote well being.

While no one’s claiming that color can cure cancer, science has established that color isn’t just pretty it’s a mood changing, blood pressure altering phenomenon. “Its most important use is for relaxation,” says Springfield, Missouri, physician Norm Shealy, founder of the American Holistic Medical Association. “And since 75 percent or more of illnesses are the result of stress, relaxing can help prevent them.”

To figure out what this means to the body, psychology researcher Robert Gerard, then at the University of California at Los Angeles, did an experiment in which he flashed red, blue, and white lights at research subjects. When subjects looked at the red light, their blood pressure rose, as did breathing rates, the amount of sweat on palms, and the frequency of eye blinks. When subjects looked at blue light, their blood pressure dropped, as did the amount of blinking and breathing. In short, they mellowed.

Gerard proposed that the longer wavelength colors generally the “warm” colors like red, orange, and yellow rev us up, while the “cooler colors,” which have shorter wavelengths, calm us down. It makes sense: This is why red is considered an aggressive, lively color and why the matador waves a red cape in front of the bull. As for the cool colors, I now understand the idea behind the “green room” where people at television studios wait before going on camera: It eases anxiety.

What’s your favorite color?
While our perception of warm and cool colors is thought to be universal, some quirks of color psychology are particular to each individual. We react to color by traveling a twisty path through our physical sensations, the collective unconscious, cultural norms, and finally, our specific personal history with a certain color. We may find white houses to be clean and fresh because we grew up in one, for instance, or find them sterile and dull for the same reason.

Your Color Horoscope
A preference for a certain color reveals much about your inner desires, according to the theories of German color psychologist Heinrich Frieling. To learn what color has to tell you, use this chart, developed by interior designer Debra A. Wade, and choose the shade you find most appealing. The text that matches that color shows qualities you have or would like more of in your life.

Turquoise. Insight, progressive thinking, healing.
Red. Self-motivation, leadership, generosity.
Chartreuse. Flexibility, growth, expansion.
Pink. Support, nurturance. sympathetic understanding.
Black. Self-sufficiency, individualism, protection.
Burgundy. Adventure, emotional play and expression.
Green. Clear perception, self-recognition, compassion.
Orange. Quick-thinking, intuition, independence.
Yellow. Communication, observation, analysis.
Blue. Clear thinking, diligence, organization.
Mint. Self-healing, tranquility, time-out.
Indigo. Self-reliance, clear and holistic thought.
White. Cleansing, protective, simplification.
Gray. Need a vacation, acute sensibility, calming.
Purple. Artistry, spirituality, culture.
Yellow Orange. Life-promoting creativity, quickness.

Now my favorite color is blue. Followed by black and white. How about yours and what does it say about you? Let me know.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab