Color Shapes Our Perceptions of the World Around Us


The world around us is full of color, and astoundingly, it shapes the way we perceive the world. From the way that a vibrant yellow lemon can cause salivation because of the perceived notion of its sour flavor to the soothing effects of gazing out over turquoise seas- the hues of life and nature stimulate an inner response.

What is it about red that triggers responses such as danger, while blue evokes a perception of security? The answer lies with a scientific phenomenon known as “synaesthesia”, which is the mechanism that causes the sight of a particular color to interconnect with the senses of taste and smell. For example: many bakeries and candy shops often use the color pink to lure in customers with a yin for sweet confections because the brain generally associates the color pink with sugar.

An individual’s personal taste in color also speaks volumes on their own life experience as well as their personality. Non-conformists generally tend to be attracted to the color magenta, while humanitarian people lovers tend to gravitate toward green. Those who have a need to logically understand their surroundings and approach their lives with a sense of logic over emotion are more likely to find yellow appealing.

The effects that color has on our perceptions are nearly endless. In fact, the marketing industry has honed in on this innate characteristic by implementing certain colors that will elicit a favorable response from customers. Fast food chains generally use bright colors to create an atmosphere in which customers will quickly come and go in efforts to generate more foot traffic. Alternatively, department stores and shopping centers are more commonly decorated in natural, soothing tones that will put shoppers at ease and encourage them to linger and spend as much money as possible.

Grocery stores have learned that brightly packaged food items sell at a greater rate than items that come in plain packaging. Because the hunger mechanism is intensified by sight and smell, the right color combination can create an instant response in the brain in which the observer salivates because they can actually anticipate consuming that product the minute their sensory systems perceive it.

Even the makeup of nature is designed to inspire feelings of well-being. Imagine a forest of trees arrayed with fire engine read leaves and chartreuse tree bark. For most, this visualization is, at very least, unsettling. We perceive the deep blue sky as invigorating, the lush green grass as comforting, the bright white on gray of snow capped mountains as majestic. The rich glow of amber twilight twinged with the golden streaks of the setting sun creates a sensation of warmth and peace.

What would a world void of color be? The gift of sight should not be taken for granted.The presence or absence of color impacts every aspect of everyones life and saturates the senses. It influences everyone to associate life experiences- whether good or bad- with them. The colors of everyones life inspire, outrage, motivate, entice and they have the power to shape a persons perceptions of the world around them.

By: J.A. Johnson


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