Colour Perception

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

A common misconception people often have towards colour is that it is, just colour. But colour is not something to be taken lightly. It has the ability to affect your mood, influence your perception and even empower you.

In fact, I could even drive you out of your own house with nothing but a single colour. Do you think that’s too bold a claim? Well think about this. Picture the interior of your house. Now imagine, I went and painted it all in bright red.

What’s that? You say red is your favourite colour? Well, now take it even a step further and imagine if all the furniture, as well as all the other items in your house were also the same shade of red. How long do you think you’ll really be able to stay in the house? Let alone live in it… I know I wouldn’t last more than five minutes. That much red is far too loud and overwhelming.


Evidently, colour can be a truly powerful tool, so understanding colour and learning how to wear it, can really work to your advantage.

So what exactly is colour?

It all began during the 1700’s, when Sir Isaac Newton’s experiment of entrapping light in a prism, retracted seven main colours through the visible spectrum of white light. This discovery in the nature of light and colour initiated the first relationship between light and colour.  As you can see, there is a whole science behind light and colour.


In fact, the underlying meaning of colour is based around science and psychology. Which is why, as image and personal brand consultants, we delve deeper into the realm of colour to discover the myriad of meanings associated with colour and how this affects our state of mind.

Think about the colours you wear and how much your mood that day influences this choice.  Are you feeling bright and energetic and want to make a bold statement with a lively yellow? Or do you want to exude elegance and sophistication, and feel more powerful in a classic black?

See how these everyday choices reflect you as a person; from your emotions to influencing how others perceive you. It really is incredible how something so universal and simple allows us to be so creative and expressive.

In fact, you could even say that colours are our ‘optical emotions’.

Human-beings are amazing creatures.  We sense and interpret colours through our eyes, body and mind. Colours sensed through the eyes stimulate different regions that are sensitive to specific colours. For example the area sensitive to green light is located directly in the centre of the retina, which allows light to fall into the centre of the eye. This makes the colour green, the most relaxing colour for the eyes and, in turn, the mind.


So next time you are deciding on your outfit, visualise how people interpret colour through their senses and what your colour choice says about you.

Be aware however, that the previously discussed interpretations of colour only apply to Western culture. Next time, we will investigate how the symbolism and meaning of colour varies across different cultures.