It is generally recognized that colors affect human behavior. Other things being equal, individuals tend to change their behavior if they are influenced by the perception of their preferable or non-preferable colors. This paper elaborates on the specific patterns of colors affecting human behavior. The recent studies in this field will be examined as well as the corresponding implications will be formulated. In general, the impact of color on human behavior is stronger than it is generally believed, and it can be used for numerous socially useful purposes.
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Although color affects the behavior of almost all individuals, it is necessary to stress that this impact is different among people. Such factors as people’s age, culture, social status, and background determine individuals’ perceptions and attitudes towards different colors (Fiszman and Spence, p. 165). Moreover, substantial differences may exist even among groups as all people are unique, and the ultimate individual’s decision is affected not only by his/her belonging to a particular group but also by his/her internal and inborn preferences. Currently, the studies of human color perception are observed in both theoretical and practical spheres. The former are mostly associated with the recent research of color psychologists while the latter refers to the marketing and brand promotion strategies of many commercial companies.
Both psychologists and marketing specialists recognize that color may have a specific meaning. In other words, it is not neutral to people’s perception and analysis of information. This influence consists of two major elements: the meaning of color obtained from the dominant social group and the inborn perceptions (Fiszman and Spence, p. 167). The perception of a specific color leads to a set of automatic responses by an individual. It means that they are not rationally constructed or developed. They are the form of automatic responses to perceiving a particular color. When the sub-conscious process of evaluating colors is completed, it transforms into corresponding behavioral responses. The intensity of the given responses depends on the intensity of the impulse. More significant colors, for a given individual, lead to more substantial reactions and adjustments. In the majority of cases, a person cannot affect these changes by his/her reasoning as well as explain this impact on his/her behavior later. The general social context also influences meaning that is transformed with the help of a given color.
Gnambs, Appel, and Oerberst (2015) examine the impact of colors on risk-taking behavior that is demonstrated by individuals. The researchers focus on the online environment as it allows obtaining the substantial amount of information within the minimum amount of time. They compare the students’ responses and eagerness to take risky decisions when facing the following two alternatives: the dominant red and grey colors. The results show that the vast majority of students have demonstrated more conservative choices when they perceived red color (Gnambs, Appel, and Oerberst, p. 12). It can be explained by the assumption that students perceived red color as a sign of the potential threat or danger. Correspondingly, grey color was more neutral, and they could believe that the level of risk was acceptable.
All colors have both functional and sensory-social meanings. The former refers to the ability of a specific color to address human needs or solve some internal problems. The latter refers to transforming attitudes or creating the individually desirable perceptions. Although interpersonal differences may exist, the following generalized meanings are typical for the Western world. Black color often has the functional meaning of being expensive and is often associated with fear or grief from a sensory-social perspective. White color often means purity and happiness for the westerners. Red color is associated with negative factors, and this functional perception is proven in the research by Gnambs, Appel, and Oerberst (2015). At the same time, at the sensory level, red color means love and lust. Blue color is often associated with high quality and qualification. Thus, the prevalence of any color or the combination of colors may encourage different modes of behavior.
The issue of combining colors according to people’s preferences is also important and complicated. As the majority of people like diversity, the effective combination of colors may have a substantial positive impact of their world perception and behavior (Komarova and Jameson, p. 7). If colors are combined ineffectively, even preferred colors can be perceived negatively. In most cases, people do not like perceiving a high variety of colors and prefer several dominating colors. The combination of colors close in the spectrum is often seen as stylish by people (Fiszman and Spence, p. 166). It means that selecting the proper combination of colors does not necessarily mean selecting any two or three colors perceived positively by a given individual. Their position in the spectrum should also be considered.
Ahlstrom (2015) has proven that even the color of the weather display affect s the assessment of the situation by the pilot and the probability of making different decisions. It means that even professionals whose decisions are highly formalized and standardized cannot avoid the impact of colors. Therefore, human responses to colors, their combination, and variety should be considered as being one of the major factors when creating any programs, norms, or designing interventions. One of the possible explanations is that the objective and subjective realms are not as separated as western scholars believe. It is impossible to exclude the impact of human perceptions on the objective world. Correspondingly, the impact of colors on that perception should be analyzed closely.