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The Colour code: How colour can affect every aspect of you life


Everyone has a favourite colour, but did you know that there’s a lot of evidence showing how colour can have an impact on everyday situations?

Red means stop. Green means go. It may seem simple but this is an example of how we use colour to communicate every day. But as well as being consciously aware of colour, it’s possible that colour can also have a big effect on our mind-set, even when we don’t know it. Here are just a few of the areas in which you could utilise the power of colour:


If you work in a creative industry and try to surround yourself with colour, you might want to consider green. That’s according to one theory, which says that glimpses of green can enhance creative output. In four experiments they observed that when participants looked at green before completing picture-based and word-based tasks, their creativity was enhanced compared to those who looked at red, blue, white or grey.1
Tip: Green is great for creativity.

Sport & Exercise

Colour can play a big part in performance, but make sure you check whether you’re on your own or in a team. In individual tasks, red can decrease exercise performance. In one experiment, participants viewed red before a strength test, and although they reached the same peak force, they produced the force slower than those who viewed grey or blue beforehand.However, when it comes to a team sport, red is for winners.3 It’s all to do with aggression and dominance. Atrill (2008) analysed more than 50 years of elite football and found a performance advantage for teams wearing red. Apparently, teams playing against red can feel threatened, which in turn reduces confidence.
Tip: Wear red as a team, but not on your own.


It’s not just the colour of your food that affects how you enjoy it, but also the colours around you. Apparently, being surrounded by red stimulates appetite, making it a popular choice for fast food restaurants. On the other hand, excessive use of the colour blue can be an appetite suppressant, because we recognise it as an unnatural colour for food.4
Individual colours can help to enhance different foods and drinks too. Coffee feels hotter in a red cup5, popcorn tastes sweeter from a red bowl6, hot chocolate is ‘more chocolaty’ in an orange cup7 and red wine has a better flavour in a blue glass8. Something to think about next time you have a dinner party.

Tip: Try blue if you want to lose weight.



When it comes to shopping, it’s best to try and keep your customers in a relaxed state of mind, so they can focus on what they want to buy. Many stores, buildings and even websites make sure they keep everyone on side by using blue. It all comes down to atmospherics – and it really works, since blue stores and websites are rated as more relaxing, less crowded and even more trustworthy.9

Tip: Shop owners, think blue.


It seems colour can affect everything you’re doing, even if you don’t know it. So, next time you’re going to exercise or doing a creative task, remember to check you’re wearing the right colour.


1 Lichtenfeld, S., Elliot, A. J., Maier, M. A., & Pekrun, R. (2012)

2 Payen (2011)

3 Atrill (2008)

4 Kido (2000)

5 Gueguen & Jacob (2013)

6 Harrar (2011)

7 Piqueras-Fiszman & Spence (2012)

8 Ross (2009)

9 Alberts & Van Der Geest (2011), Gorn (2004), Lee & Rao (2010), Yuksel (2009)