The Associations of Color and Mood

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The weather changes all the time and at times when it’s raining you can feel your mood change. Even when is sunny outside you feel better and overall you’re in a positive mood. Even when the seasons change, our mood changes as well. Color is defined as the quality of visible light that corresponds to wavelength as perceived by retinal receptors (APA, 1892). Color can affect many parts of our lives, and to an extent, it can impact our mood. Moods are defined as any short-lived emotional state, usually of low intensity (APA, 1892). Color can make us feel a variety of emotions. Even being in a room with a specific color can have an impact on our current mood. Research has shown that a particular color can keep students or even workers more focused by blocking any sort of distraction (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). It is predicted that color will affect mood, such that participants will respond more favorably to a vignette presented on a blue color paper than on the same vignette on red paper. 

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There have been multiple studies done about how color impacts mood, whether it is in living space, work, or even school. As well as testing performance, mood, physiological response, and emotional response. The study conducted by Peretti in 1974 focused on performance on a color mood association task. The study consisted of a reading stimulus, which was either a tragedy or a comedy. Each reading stimulus came in either blue, yellow, or grey poster boards (Peretti, 1974). The sample was made up of English and psychology students. The groups were randomized by sex. The participants had to report their mood after half of the group read the play (Peretti, 1974). The reading stimulus that provided the tragedy was from Hamlet and is assumed to lead participants to feelings of moods of sadness (Peretti, 1974). The comedy reading was As You Like It, which meant to lead the participants to provide happy moods (Peretti, 1974). The leading theory presented by the study was to determine if color- mood associations exist in college students. They focus on associations between sex and academic background of participants (Peretti, 1974). The finding showed that participants who were English students since one can assume that they recognize the reading material could have impacted their results. They were more likely to respond with blue after haven read the reading material that was a tragedy and yellow for the comedy reading piece (Peretti, 1974). The English students responded to a higher than the Psychology students (Peretti, 1974). 

The next study focused on the effects of the presence or lack of a partition board and its colors on individual mood ratings and variations of the autonomic nervous system produced by a video game task (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The variables the study included were the mood, which was analyzed by POMS (Profile of Mood States). The next variable was momentary feelings, which was evaluated by a visual analog scale (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The final variable is Autonomic nervous system functions examine by heart rate, baroreflex sensitivity, and blood pressure (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). Each participant for each session had to fill out a POMS and get a visual analogous to get their standard feelings (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). They were covered with a mask to avoid any influence from the color partition board that could present itself otherwise (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). All the sessions he participants were kept under the same fluorescent light, and the temperature was maintaining the same throughout (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The theory in the study conducted by Sakuragi & Sugiyama in 2011 was the modulatory effects of partition boards of three colors on the task brought a change in mood, and autonomic nervous function was analyzed. The findings showed that the blue partition board decreases task-induced subjective fatigue (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). It lowered the harsh feeling of being enclosed during the task and maybe rising autonomic reactivity (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). 

The study done by Hatta, Yoshida, Kawakami, & Okamoto in 2002 was focused on the effects of color of the environmental objects such as a colorful computer on task performance and measure human psychological and physiological states. The variables consisted of psychological moods analyzed by the Japanese Stress Arousal Check List (Hatta et al., 2002). Heart rate was another variable from the physiological response, frame color, and the last one was task performance (Hatta et al., 2002). The theory for the study was to look for effects in work performance, psychological mood, and physiological response by looking at computer frames with color display (Hatta et al., 2002). The findings for the first experiment said that the red computer monitor diminished visual task performance on a high demand task. The second experiment said color did not affect mood or heart rate (Hatta et al., 2002).

Yildirim, Hidayetoglu, & Capanoglu, in 2011, did a study that consisted of looking if different colors across room interiors induce different moods. The variables included sex, warn colors, fresh colors, or achromatic colors (Yildirim et al., 2011). The setting was based on two living rooms that were presented as digital images (Yildirim et al., 2011). The theories of the study were to analyzed color emotion associations in indication to three digital pictures of matching living rooms views in three distinct color patterns in two virtual living rooms (Yildirim et al., 2011). The findings showed that variances between participant's views of each of the three distinct interior color patterns concerning environmental facts were significant (Yildirim et al., 2011). 

Lastly, the study done by Weller and Livingston in 1988 looked at a three-way analysis of variance was done in three different colors, the type of verdict and sex. The variables included in the study were the colors of the questionnaires, sex, and emotional response was analyzed (Weller & Livingston, 1988). The surveys were administered in an ordinary classroom setting (Weller & Livingston, 1988). The theory of the study was to look if the color of the paper had any effects on the emotional response gained from surveys (Weller & Livingston, 1988). The findings found that there were meaningful distinctions for color and verdict but nothing for sex (Weller & Livingston, 1988). 

Multiple studies showed some similarities like looking at color and the effects on mood. Peretti did the study in 1974, and the study conducted by Leonard Weller & Randy Livington in 1988 had the same concept in mind. Both studies looked at the different colors of questionnaires and emotional responses or mood tones that they would cause. Each study presented the questionnaires in a variety of colors ranging from blue, pink, white, grey, and yellow. Each study also had its differences, even by the reading stimuli presented. One of the studies used Shakespeare plays, which were Hamlet, Prince od Demark, and As You Like It (Peretti, 1974). The other study had gotten murder and rape cases as the reading stimulus (Weller & Livingston, 1988). These two studies relate to my thesis by providing background on the variables that I am incorporating and supporting that there is some correlation between the color of questionnaires and the effects that it will have on mood. Even just looking at the study by Peretti done in 1974, the participants reported picked the color blue more times to present the tragedy or sad mood from the reading stimulus. The other study did find that the color affected the response given (Weller & Livingston, 1988). The component that was interesting in this study was that the color pink seems to provide more of a calming emotional response than blue, which is something to keep in mind for my study (Weller & Livingston, 1988). 

The three other studies have their similarities in trying to find the effect of color on mood as well. The study by Yildirim, Hidayetoglu, and Capanoglu did in 2011 considered participants sex and the color of their living space. The study was composed of two experiments, and the second experiment focused on the effects of sex and see how that impacts color perception (Yildirim et al., 2011). The results showed that participants who were men reported more positively views on bright colors than dark colors than women (Yildirim et al., 2011). Moreover, if we looked at the achromatic color patterns, there was no strong correlation found among the sexes (Yildirim et al., 2011). These results are similar to the study done by Weller and Livington in 1988, who also consider sex but found no significant correlation between how men and women reacted since both sexes had an equal reaction to the cases and colors. 

The next two studies have some reoccurring variables. One of the studies used a video game task to see mood ratings and autonomic nervous system functions such as heart rate, baroreflex sensitivity, and blood pressure (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The results showed that the blue panel board seems to increase fatigue scores compared to the sessions with red or yellow or no color (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The color blue was also preferred between all the other colors, which can negatively impact the oppressive mood, which could have cause a reduction of fatigue after the task (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The limitations of the study are that the researcher does not know if the video-game task could have adequately simulated and be applied to everyday office work (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The color blue could have also improved the contrast of the display and made it easier to see the object, which could have promoted productivity of the task (Sakuragi & Sugiyama, 2011). The other study also used a task but on the computer, which was composed of different colors to see the performance and measure psychological mood and physiological states, which were stress, arousal, and heart rate (Hatta et al., 2002). In these studies, there was no meaningful effect on physiological and psychological mood states, which was different from the study by Sakuragi and Sugiyama which possibly found an increase in autonomic reactivity (Hatta et al., 2002). They found a distinction in color for task performance. The blue computer frame seems to slow down the speed of the performance than the red on or beige (Hatta et al., 2002). Overall throughout the study, colors seem to impact one of the variables in each study. So it is interesting to see how doing research could lead to further findings. These studies gave great insight to a requisite amount of variables that can give reliability to work done. Each study was not identical but had some similarities with keeping mood or emotional responses constant. 


1.APA Dictionary of Psychology. (1892). Retrieved from

2.Hatta, T., Yoshida, H., Kawakami, A., & Okamoto, M. (2002). Color of Computer Display 

3.Frame in Work Performance, Mood, and Physiological Response. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 94(1), 39–46.

4.Peretti, P. O. (1974). Color-Mood Associations in Young Adults. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 

39(2), 715–718.

5.Sakuragi, S., & Sugiyama, Y. (2011). Effect of Partition Board Color on Mood and Autonomic 

6.Nervous Function. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 113(3), 941–956.

7.Weller, L., & Livingston, R. (1988). Effect of Color of Questionnaire on Emotional 

8.Responses. The Journal of General Psychology, 115(4), 433–440. doi: 10.1080/00221309.1988.9710580

9.Yildirim, K., Hidayetoglu, M. L., & Capanoglu, A. (2011). Effects of Interior Colors on Mood 

and Preference: Comparisons of Two Living Rooms. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 112(2), 509–524.

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