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Color Theory -

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The Psychological and Physiology of
By: Sarwar Nassiry
•The human brain is able to distinguish over two hundred shades of white, able
to see the same color no matter the light source, to say color is essential to our
perception is no slight exaggeration.
Vision is a complicated process that requires numerous components of the
human eye and brain to work together.
•The first step for the process of vision is carried out in the retina of the eye.
Specifically, the photoreceptor neurons in the retina collect the light
•Send signals to a network of neurons
•The neurons generate electrical impulses that go to the brain.
•The brain then processes those impulses and gives information about what we
are seeing.
The human eye is the organ which gives us the sense of
sight, allowing us to learn more about the surrounding world
than we do with any of the other four senses. We use our
eyes in
almost every
we perform,
writing a letter,
driving a car,
and in
other ways.
Most people probably would agree that sight is the
sense they value more than all the rest.
The eye allows us to see and interpret the shapes, colors,
and dimensions of objects in the world by processing the light
they reflect or emit. The eye is able to see in bright light or in
dim light, but it cannot see objects when light is absent.
What is Color?
Color is our perception of different wavelengths of light.
Light visible to humans ranges in wavelength form 380
nanometers (nm) for violet light to 760 nm for red light.
We have three types of cone photoreceptors.
Each cone type responds to a different range of
wavelengths within the visible light spectrum.
Blue-sensitive cones are maximally stimulated
by blue and violet light.
Green-sensitive cones are maximally stimulated
by light in the yellow to green range.
Red-sensitive cones are most stimulated by light
in the red to yellow range.
Color vision in humans is based on the additive color theory. This
theory states that all perceivable colors can be made by mixing
different amounts of red, green, and blue light, the primary colors of
the additive color system. Equal amounts of the three primaries
give the sensation of white, while the absence of additive primaries
is black.
The additive color wheel. The three additive primaries are at the
•Does color have effect on our emotions and behavior? The
answer is yes. The findings are inconclusive. Our reactions to
colors are led by a combination of biological, physiological,
psychological, social and cultural factors.
Generally include magenta, red, orange,
yellow, and yellow-green. They speed
up our perception of time and produce
feelings that are warm, cozy, and
inviting. These colors are associated
with excitement, happiness and comfort.
Generally include violet, blue, light
blue, cyan and sea green. Emotions
associated with these colors range
from calm and peace to sadness,
withdrawal and repression.
Colors often have different meanings in various cultures.
And even in Western societies, the meanings of various
colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S.,
researchers have generally found the following to be
Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in
fashion (black-tie-affair).
Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify
submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman
wearing black implies submission to men.
People wear black in times of mourning (funerals).
Black is a controversial color. It can represent evil and
reliability, authority and despair, and evil characters and yet
Too much black can inhibit growth and positive change
because of its passivity.
White symbolizes innocence and purity. White is a strange color in
the sense that it is all of the colors together reflected, that’s why it
is considered a summer color. White is a neutral color. However,
white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than
other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.
White brings calmness to the heart and ameliorates despair. It
stands for freedom and independence but too much can make you
feel isolated.
The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster
heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red commands
attention. Red gives the impression of seriousness and dignity,
represents heat, fire and rage, it is known to escalate the body's
Using too much red should be done with caution because of its
domineering qualities. Red is the most powerful of colors.
•The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the
most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as
red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce
calming chemicals. Blue lowers blood pressure and thus
relaxes the nervous system.
•Deep blue stimulates the pituitary gland, which then
regulates our sleep patterns. This deeper blue also has
proved to help the skeletal structure in keeping bone
marrow healthy.
•Blue surroundings, if not too dark, increase productivity.
Studies show that students score higher, weightlifters lift
heavier weights in blue rooms. People retain more when
reading information written in blue text.
•Darker shades of blue can also be cold and depressing.
Currently the most popular decorating color, green
symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can
improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People
waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax.
Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides
in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark
green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth.
However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on
the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.
Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is
considered an optimistic color, people lose their
tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will
cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take
in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow
enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It
also speeds metabolism.
Purple is a mixture of blue and active red. It
can represent coolness, mist, and shadows. It
can symbolize royalty, purple connotes luxury,
wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine
and romantic. However, because it is rare in
nature, purple can appear artificial.
Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth (trees and wood)
and is abundant in nature, giving us a sense of familiarity.
Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar
to wood or leather. It represents conservancy and humility
and is one of the most neutral colors. Brown can also be
sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of
their favorite colors.
•Color blindness, visual defect resulting in the inability to distinguish colors.
•About 8% of men and 0.5% of women experience some difficulty in color
perception. Color blindness is usually an inherited sex-linked characteristic,
transmitted through, but recessive in, females.
•Acquired color blindness results from certain degenerative diseases of the
•Most of those with defective color vision are only partially color-blind to red and
green. Those who are completely color-blind to red and green see both colors
as a shade of yellow.
•Completely color-blind individuals can recognize only black, white, and shades
of gray.
Color index, in astronomy, difference in an object's brightness
as recorded between any two well-defined bands of the
electromagnetic spectrum by using optical filters of different colors. If
blue and red filters are used, then the color index B-R would be zero
for a white star (spectral class A0). The color index is positive for stars
redder than a white star and negative for stars bluer than a white star.
In effect, measuring the color index is equivalent to measuring the
difference between the amount of blue light and red light that the star
radiates. Although a star's true color might be changed as its light
travels through clouds in interstellar space, the color index is an
important indicator of the temperature of a star, gas cloud, or galaxy.
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