”White for Shadowhunters is the color of funerals,” Luke explained. “But for mundanes, Jace, it’s the color of weddings. Brides wear white to symbolize their purity.”
– Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels

The Psychology and Meaning of Colors

What is it about the rainbow that gives most people a sense of happiness? Sure, it signifies the calm after a storm, but the colors themselves have an effect on our minds.

There is a reason why people prefer certain colors over others. This preference says volumes about our personalities, because each color has an association with a reaction our brain has when we internalize it.

Color psychology is a well-known, yet less explored branch of the study of how our brain perceives what it visualizes. As far as scientific research goes, there is not much to work with. However, the impact that colors have on our brains is used to manipulate our decision making by multiple facets of society.

Personality Based on Color:


  • Associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
  • Enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.
  • It attracts attention more than any other color, at times signifying danger.

Colors related to red: Magenta, Burgundy, Maroon.


  • Associated with the traits of dependability, reliability, and resilience.
  • Brown-lovers are most often reserved and not looking to attract attention to oneself
  • While light brown represents honesty and stability, dark brown is considered mature, predictable, and dull


  • Combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow.
  • Associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics.
  • Represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.


  • Unique and authentic
  • Enthusiastic, sympathetic and personal; they seek meaning and significance in life
  • Warm, communicative and compassionate; they care about what they do
  • Idealistic, spiritual and sincere; they value unity and integrity in their relationships
  • Peaceful, flexible and imaginative; they are natural romantics and nurturers

Colors related to blue: Teal, Turquoise


  • Associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
  • Produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates
    muscle energy.
  • Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color.
  • When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect.
  • It is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms.
  • Yellow indicates honor and loyalty. Later the meaning of yellow was connected with cowardice.

Colors related to yellow: Amber, Beige


  • Color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility.
  • Strong emotional correspondence with safety.
  • Dark green is also commonly associated with money.
  • Has great healing power.
  • Green suggests stability and endurance.
  • Color of the sea. It is often associated with depth and stability.
  • Symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
  • Considered beneficial to the mind and body.
  • Slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.
  • Strongly associated with tranquility and calmness.
  • Used to symbolize piety and sincerity.

Also check: Chartreuse


  • This is a color that represents a gentle type of love
  • Pink stands for tenderness, vulnerability and youth
  • It is a calming, non-threatening color. It is linked to innocence, hope and optimism.
  • Pink color also represents positive aspects of traditional femininity like nurture and kindness.
  • Pink can be linked to childhood sweetness and innocence, appearing sometimes as naïve or silly

Also check: Salmon


  • Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red.
  • Associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition.
  • Conveys wealth and extravagance.
  • Associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.

Relevant colors: Indigo, Violet, Lavender, Mauve


  • Associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity.
  • Considered to be the color of perfection.
  • Signifies safety, purity, and cleanliness.
  • Usually has a positive connotation.
  • Can represent a successful beginning.
  • Depicts faith and purity.


  • Associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.
  • A mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes).
  • Usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’).
  • Denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and    prestigious color.
  • The symbol of grief.

Color is, simply stated, broken down white light. This is a dissection of light at different wavelengths and each wavelength is perceived as a separate color. Objects tend to absorb or reflect these wavelengths, so when we see a yellow lemon, it is the yellow wavelength that is being reflected while all others are being absorbed. Now that we have understood what color means, let’s explore some of the ways it influences our mood.

We feel color. How or what we feel about it varies from person to person. Some colors give us a sense of serenity and calm;these usually lie within the blue side of the spectrum-that consists of purple and green too, known as the cool side. Others induce rage and make us uncomfortable , or signify passion; these lie within the red spectrum-which includes orange and yellow, known as the warm side.

Color perception is subjective, and certain colors have a very universal significance. This is coded into our reptilian brain, giving us that instinctive feeling of fire being dangerous and the beach being relaxing.

Color psychology is a very important tool used by artists, interior decorators, and as a marketing mechanism in many industries. It is the palette used by Dali that makes his artwork bizarre, and amplifies the hyperrealism he intends to create.

When we visit a museum to appreciate a work of art, we take it in through the colors we see because they invoke within us certain emotions, making the claim that everyone sees it differently a reality. Interior decorators survey the effect of colors when deciding what color (Or rather color associations) the walls of a certain area in a building will be painted.

The reason that many offices have a lot of greys, blues and browns incorporated in their décor is because these colors tends to increase productivity. Yet, this is not a rule of the thumb. This does hold true for a corporate environment, but if one were to work say for example in the fashion industry, or the media, the use of brighter and more “colorful” paints would help encourage creativity.

Many car commercials show black as their model, because this certain color is associated with affluence and seriousness. This leads the consumer to believe that the product is worth buying. Even the food and drink industry uses color to attract more people to certain brands. The purple and gold packaging of a certain brand of candy bar is a technique to lure the consumer into believing that this is chocolate royalty, and why would one not want to buy the best of best. Culturally speaking, colors have different values attached to them too. A bride in the western world wears white, where as it is what a widow wears in South Asia.

Color stimulates our brain, and from the ancient times has proven to be useful alternative psychotherapy. The Egyptians and Chinese used colors to heal, a process that is known is chromotherapy. Colors were used to in order to help the body function better.

However there is a lot of doubt that prevails today as far as the effectiveness of color therapy is concerned. Since every human being has different emotions attached to different colors, the universal significance of colors may or may not work in these cases.

Bottom line being, color psychology and associations are an interesting part of the complex working system of our brain, yet with so many scientific questions about it still left unanswered , and differences in cultural attachments to colors, it can only be utilized through observation and experience of how color has influenced brains over the years.