Q: Which industries show the most interest In color psychology?
A: We do a lot in the health-care industry, and it's used quite a bit in restaurants to enhance appetite and encourage people to stay longer.
It's used most often in retail. The reason Kmart uses the reds is to appeal to the masses, and red gets you in the mood to spend. Wal-Mart and stores like that use oranges and browns and red because those are family colors.
"Color psychology can help you choose paint colors that create the right mood in a room, affecting not just your own feelings, but those of everyone who enters the space," according to Debbie Zimmer, color expert at the Paint Quality Institute."In fact, paint color is so powerful that it can influence not just our state of mind, but even our physiology," she says.
The hidden influence of color has long been used by the fashion and advertising industries to get attention for their products. You'll find red in fast food restaurants because science has shown it's physiologically stimulating and said to increase one's appetite. Presidents and other statesmen wear blue suits because studies have revealed that blue calms and inspires trust.
And now, there are people ready to teach you how to exploit color for personal gain and happiness and how to use it as tool for self-discovery.
Harrington says: "Blue is a security color. It represents strength, dependability, things that are going to be around a long time. It's the most trusting color in the world."
Yellow gives you a lift, but it is hard for the eyes to be around it for a long time.
If you share a one-bath house or a condo with a large family or roommates, paint the bathroom yellow. It will be easier to take a shower!
Green is wealth and prestige and, interestingly enough, both men and women like it.
White, the most popular paint color in the U.S., is good for bathrooms because it makes small rooms look larger. But in large spaces such as offices, light-reflecting white walls can cause eyestrain, headaches and tension.
Black, like white, is considered a neutral color. It can appear to advance or recede, depending on its surroundings. Feng shui followers say black increases performance. But others find it depressing if used other than as an accent color.
Pink is used in prisons and facilities that house mental patients because it reduces hostility and aggression.
If red gets us excited, it's pink that calms us down. Some years ago, researchers painted jail cells pink to see if that defused prisoners' aggression.
They used a bright shade called Baker Miller pink, commonly known as Pepto-Bismol pink. In tests at a Seattle jail, prisoners not only stayed calm in the pink cell, the effects lingered at least 30 minutes after being removed from the cell.
You can use this to your advantage, Olsen says. If you know you're going to have a potentially ugly encounter with someone, wear pink. It will give you a non-threatening aura of sweetness.
Still, the illusion of freedom remains, and, according to Mr. Birren, mass taste changes every 10 years or so of its own volition. After World War II, the favorites were reds, blues, grays and ivory. Then came the era of pastels (aquamarine refrigerators), followed by shades like ''harvest gold,'' avocado, beiges and taupes. The replacement for ivory, off-white, has been a sleeper for 20 years. Purple is in and out, beige is steady and so is pink, but green is the ''most American'' of colors, he said. Today, the trend is toward brighter hues.
But variety, Birren found, was perhaps as important as the colors themselves. "A circus is less likely to make a person neurotic than the tan waiting room of a railroad depot," he said. As with most things, monotony is deadening.
"Change, variation, sequence are all vital in the use of color. In fact no human sense -- including vision -- can respond consistently to a fixed stimuli," said Birren, whose name is still attached to a prize given annually to artists for their skill in combining colors.
First, what associations do you, individually, have to your various color options? If a particular brilliant turquoise seems like the perfect shade to use in a space, but every time you look at that perfect turquoise you taste the noxious cough medicine you had to take regularly as a child, don't use that color. There are plenty of other ones around, and it is nearly impossible to block bad sensory memories.
The second thing to think about is cultural associations to particular hues.
Yup, Kermit's favorite color may actually get our creative juices flowing, according to a recent study.
The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, asked 69 men and women to take two minutes to come up with as many uses for a tin can as they could. Before the time started, half the group was shown a white rectangle, and the other half a green one. After the two minutes, a trained coder rated each idea for its creativity. The findings? Participants who saw green before the test came up with the more interesting, imaginative answers.