Sit down in a cozy chair and bathe your brain in a bubble of color of your choosing, dialing up anything from amber to violet. As you spend a few moments with each color, you may feel a shift in your own emotional hue.
An entire field of research—color psychology—devotes itself to exploring this phenomenon, the ability of color to manipulate our emotions.
Thought to be partly a matter of cultural training and partly a matter of biology, the power that color has to subtly sway our feelings has been confirmed in a wide range of environments. Not only does color have measurable affects on mood, it can alter the way food tastes, the outcome of a sporting match, and the effectiveness of a (placebo) pill.
Color can even distort your perception of time. In one study, participants bathed in either red or blue light were asked to estimate when a minute had passed—perceived duration was 11 seconds shorter for the blue-light crew.
Abstract of Ma, J. 2012. “Listening for Self-Reflective Talk in Visitors’ Conversations: A Case Study of the Exploratorium's Mind Collection.” Visitor Studies 15 (2): 136-156.