We know hospital rooms are often a calming green or blue. Red high heels signal excitement. And no wonder those smiley faces are yellow!
In this quiz, brown signifies warmth and luxury. I've also heard from a litigation attorney that brown comes across in the courtroom as more trustworthy.
Let's dig a little deeper. Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Eiseman Center for Color Education and Training and the Pantone Color Institute, as well as the author of "More Alive With Color," has done extensive research in the field.
Orange: Orange represents radiant energy. "Want to get energized for the day? Wear an orange bathrobe to breakfast, and drink a tall glass of orange juice," says Eiseman. "Focusing on orange produces an adrenaline-releasing effect."
Green: Though it's linked with envy, green actually has more positive associations. Think trees, grass and relaxation. It's also the color of money, which may partly explain why an experiment at Gettysburg College found green was linked with success-oriented words, while red was associated with failure-oriented words. Want more calmness at work? Put a green plant on your desk. Or take a walk in the park at lunch.
White: Purity. Simplicity. Cleanliness. Research at the University of Leeds, in the U.K., found patients have the most confidence in doctors who wear white coats. "White has this pristine aspect," explains Eiseman. "It's linked with innocence and freshness, so it's a good color when you need a rest." Wearing a crisp white blouse or T-shirt can give you this feeling. White roses, hydrangeas or tulips on your countertop also has a purifying effect.
Yellow: The color of sunshine and happiness. "It's a huge mood enhancer," Eiseman says. That may explain why yellow is the color people are most drawn to (even though blue is the most common favorite color), according to research from the University of Manchester, in the U.K. Want to get happy in a hurry? Tie a yellow scarf around your neck so you can see it. "If you live in a climate of low light in winter, consider painting your walls yellow," Eiseman suggests. It just might give that mood lift you crave.
Pink: Hot pink spikes adrenaline, says Eiseman. "Bright pink jolts the eye and gets you out of the doldrums." Researchers at the University of Waikato, in New Zealand, found that kids in a pink-colored room displayed greater physical strength and more positive moods than kids in five other color-themed rooms. "Pink also reflects well on the skin, so it makes you look good," says Eiseman, "which can, in turn, make you feel good."
Brown: Brown used to be a mere earth tone, but not anymore. "While it's still perceived as 'unpretentious and nonthreatening,' says Eiseman, "now it's about rich coffee or chocolate." Deep brown can have a quietly stimulating effect or provide a sense of warmth and luxury. Picture yourself surrounded by rich mahogany furniture, with a warm walnut picture frame on your desk -- or slipping into a cozy brown leather jacket.
Purple: The color purple is mysterious, combining the calmness of blue with the excitement of red, Eiseman explains. The result: creativity. Try a purple vase on your desk or countertop. A reddish-purple has an energizing effect, while a bluish-purple induces a more serene, spiritual influence.
Red: Danger. Excitement. Passion. Red has it all. Sometimes it can be too intense, though. University of Rochester researchers found when people looked at a red cover on an IQ test, for example, they moved their bodies away from it more than those who were given a green or gray cover. When women wear red, however, it has the opposite effect of attracting positive attention -- particularly from men (although men are totally unaware of this effect).
Blue: Peace and tranquility. Blue can help reduce stress. After all, blue is the color of clear skies and clean water, things that are dependable, notes Eiseman. Blue may also enhance performance on creative tasks, according to research at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. Try a blue screensaver for your computer or a blue mug on your desk.
Black: Though it began as the color of villains, funerals and grief, black has gradually become "the quintessential color of elegance and power," Eiseman says. Think about the popularity of the little black dress. Or the judge's robe. To feel sophisticated, powerful or elegant, wear a black dress or power suit, but "break it up with another color to create contrast," advises Eiseman. For a sophisticated touch at work or home, try a sleek black vase or an onyx picture frame.
So, now you know what to do if you want to rev up, calm down, feel sophisticated or get grounded.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of the Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.