The Color Green and the Brain

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

This week, we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And you know what that means? All things leprechauns, lucky, and the color green. Today we’re gonna focus on the way the color green affects our brain. Research in color psychology suggests that colors evoke psychological reactions affecting moods and emotions. Sometimes these reactions are related to the intensity of a color.

Here are four ways your brain perceives the color green.

First, green is considered calming. Green is often described as a refreshing and tranquil color. Other common associations with the color green are money, luck, health, and envy. In color psychology, colors made up of long wavelengths are considered arousing or warm. Whereas colors such as green that have shorter wavelengths, are relaxing or cool. The color green can positively affect thinking, relationships, and physical health. Green is also thought to relieve stress and help heal. You’ll often find green in the decor of medical facilities. Shades of green can help put people at ease in a new place. For this reason, designers often feature green in public spaces such as restaurants and hotels. One study found a green exercise effect on participants who exercised indoors while watching a video of outdoor space with a green overlay, they experienced less mood disturbance and perceived less exertion than when they watched the same video with a red or gray overlay.

Number two, green is natural. Green’s calming effects might derive from its association with nature, which people typically experience as very relaxing and refreshing. Some researchers think the positive association with the green is actually hardwired in our brains from evolution. Early humans knew that green in nature indicated a place where they could find food, water, and shelter.

Number three, green is actually motivating. Although some find green a very relaxing color, others say it motivates them. One study found that people with a high need for achievement more consistently chose the color green over the color red, which was more often chosen by those with a low need for achievement. Study participants also associated words related to failure with the color red and words related to success with the color green. In stoplights green indicates safety and permission to go. Whereas red means stop. In turn the expression “to give the green light” conveys approval.

Number four, green is optimistic. Color influences not only our emotions but also our memories. One study presented people with a list of emotionally charged words written in different colors. They were then asked to recall the specific words. They were more likely to recall positive words written in green leading researchers to theorize that green carries more positive emotional connotations. Thus, the color green might elicit an optimism bias when it comes to remembering information. In one study, participants exposed to the color green experienced increased feelings of hope and decreased feelings of fear or failure. Yes, psychology of green is evident throughout daily life. Manufacturers, advertisers, and others harness green’s various connotations to convey an impression. For example, the packaging of sustainably made products often features, you guessed it, the color green. Military gear, of course is green to camouflage shoulders and equipment.

Concepts and practices relating to environmental concerns are frequently referred to as green also. Green energy, the green initiative, the Green Party, Greenpeace, green cards, green lights, green thumb, green room, all are expressions, that in one way or another, draw on the various meanings of green. So the next time you see the color green, take a moment to consider the emotions and moods that the color evokes for you. Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, and don’t forget to wear, you guessed it, green.

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Posted on

March 15, 2023