The History of Color Psychology

history booksColor psychology came about through the work of several different people. Naturally, they differed on the opinions of color and how it was perceived, but there were enough similarities in the end to make it valuable to people who study color today. Some colors have basically kept their same association throughout the years. White, for example, has been used for weddings throughout many areas of the world for a very long time. In symbolizes purity and virginity, but sometimes also death. In China and Japan the color also used to be seen at funerals, where black is the traditional funeral color in the Western world. Red is seen as a warning in the United States, but also the color of love. A cultural difference or misconception could easily arise from this dual meaning.

Color psychology has sometimes been mistaken for phototherapy, but they are not the same. Phototherapy is the use of light to help a medical condition, such as jaundice. Color psychology is more closely related to color semantics in the sense that it is closely involved with how a person perceives color and how it makes that person feel. The symbolism of color comes partially from study but also partially from folklore. There are some trends that have been lost to history and the only thing that a person today would have to go on are the tales that have been told of colors used for ceremonies and what they meant. A lot can be learned from this, but not as much as having actual evidence that can be touched and examined.

Unfortunately, some of the history of color psychology is clouded with misconceptions that the people of the day didn’t have any way of determining were incorrect. One of these is the idea that some animals become enraged at certain colors. We now know that animals don’t see color the same way that we do, and most of them see things in shades of grey and limited color options, so the color that we see when we look at something is not the color that they see when they look at the same object. Most of these discussions and the information that they were based on in the past also involved people who ‘went crazy’ when they saw certain colors because they had such a strong reaction to them. These are only speculation and these kinds have things have not been confirmed.


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