Colour Perception: How Do You See Colour?

Have you ever wondered about how you can see colours?

Have you thought about why you feel certain ways about certain colours and why you make the subconscious colour choices you do?

That’s what colour psychology is about. Welcome to the world of colour perception.

What is Colour Psychology?

Colour psychology is the study of colours with relation to the emotional and mental effects they have on humans.

Because colours play an important role in our lives – the decisions we make, our likes and dislikes, preferences, and so on – it’s a good idea to understand how we see colour and what that perception does to us psychologically.

How Do We See Colours?

The ability of humans to see colours is usually brought about by a series of activities involving the brain and eyes.

Light receptors within the retina transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of colour.

These receptors are called cones and they are responsible for colour vision and function best during the day or in relatively bright light.

Prism reflecting colour

Colour is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colours and absorbs all the others. We are able to perceive only the reflected colours. So, the apple is not red. We see the apple as red because its surface is reflecting the wavelengths of light we perceive and absorbing the rest.

Objects will appear white when they reflect all the wavelengths of light and they will appear black when they absorb all the wavelengths of light, reflecting none.

When you look at a red bag for instance, the following set of events happen:

1. All the “invisible” colours of visible light shine on the bag

2. The surface of the red bag absorbs all the coloured light rays, except for those corresponding to red, which are reflected to the human eye.

3. The eye receives the reflected red light and sends a message to the brain. Voila!

The human eye can perceive more variations in warmer colors than cooler ones. This is because almost two-thirds of the cones process the longer light wavelengths (reds, oranges and yellows).

Colour Perception and Human Emotions and Behaviour

In humans, as in other living organisms, colour triggers many important behavioural tasks: how we identify materials, recognise objects and social-sexual signaling.

Having understood the way colour vision works and seeing how colours greatly affect our behavioural pattern, we can safely say that the reason we like coloured objects would be because we like the colour in itself. So, part of the reasons why people like red apples would first be because of the bright red shade.

Colour influences perceptions that are not obvious, such as the taste of food.

Colours have qualities that can arouse certain emotions in people. Colours can also enhance the effectiveness of placebos. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants.

In recent studies, colour preferences based on universal and individual factors like culture and age have been discovered. These variations along with other evidence imply that it is embedded deeply in our human nature to form emotional attachments and inclinations to colour.

Light and colour influence how people see their surroundings.

Different types of light sources affect interior or external objects by visually changing their surface colours.

Specific hues observed under natural sunlight may vary when seen under the light from a light-bulb: lighter colours may appear to be more orange or brownish and darker colours may appear even darker.

Light and the colour of an object can affect how one perceives its positioning. An object’s outline can be masked by light or shadow and/or the colour of the object and make it appear to be shaped differently than it really is.

Objects under a uniform light source will promote a better impression of three-dimensional shape. The colour of an object may affect whether or not it seems to be in motion. In particular, the trajectories of objects under a light source whose intensity varies with space are more difficult to determine than identical objects under a uniform light source.

Colour Psychology and Brands

Colour psychology is widely used in marketing and branding.

Marketers see colour as important as it can influence a consumer’s emotions and perception about goods and services.

Logos for companies are important since the logos can attract more customers. This happens when customers believe the company logo matches the personality of the goods and services, such as the color pink heavily used on Victoria’s Secret branding.

Colours are also important for window displays in stores. Research shows that colours such as red tended to attract spontaneous purchasers despite cool colours such as blue being more favourable.

In homes, colours also set the mood and usage for rooms.

For instance the bedrooms give a calm and relaxed mood when painted with colours like blue, grey or green. Colours like yellow incite activities and are usually used in utility places like kitchens.

Your colour choices are a natural part of who you are. Using colours in every aspect of your life should be normal – for fashion, for decoration, even when food is involved.

Dulux Nigeria is on a colour journey this year, so join us and make the most of the experience with our colour and décor services