Flying Colors

Expert: Colors affect mood

By Barbara Pierce

“Ever have a day when you just can’t figure out what to wear? Maybe you keep changing and nothing seems right?” asks Betty Ann Petkovsek. “The problem is what color you need to wear that day.”

Color definitely affects us, said Petkovsek, owner of Silver Mist Connections in Little Falls. “There’s not a lot of scientific proof; I can’t really explain it, but it’s there. Color does affect us,” she said.

“Color can affect your energy level. When we need a boost in one area, that’s the color we’re drawn to — you keep changing until you get to the color you need,” said Petkovsek.

Generally, warm colors such as red and its neighboring hues on the color spectrum are active, exciting. Cool colors such as light green, blue and violet are passive, calming.

Red is the most energetic color, said Petkovsek. Red increases your energy level and is a great way to ignite action. Wear red when you need an energy boost, want to be assertive, or exude sexuality. If you need more action, wear red.

Red is the color that catches the eye the most. It stands out from the crowd, which is why road signs, like stop signs, are red.

If you’re going to give a talk or run a meeting, wear blue, Petkovsek recommends — even if it’s just a blue scarf or crystal. Blue is the color of the mind; it has a palpable calming effect and positively affects mental clarity. Blue is a dominant business color.

Blue is the color of the sea and the sky. It is therefore associated with calmness, influence, honesty, cleanliness, and spirituality.

Green is the easiest color on the eyes, making it the color of rest and relaxation. It connotes nature in our minds and mentally balances and reassures us.

Yellow is associated with happiness, energy and togetherness; use it to boost confidence and enhance optimism. Yellow activates the anxiety portion of our brains so it can cause fighting or make babies cry.

Orange, the hybrid of red and yellow, invokes associations with basic survival — like food, shelter and warmth. It’s also the “fun” color, full of life and energy.

Purple is luxurious and inspiring. It inspires creativity and thought, leading to wealth and comfort. It is royal and velvety and makes you feel like you can achieve.

Research on the psychology of color shows that we do respond to color; it affects us on a subconscious level. People see color before they see anything else; they make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds; up to 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone.

Color connotes warmth

Pantone, which calls itself the “global color authority,” did interesting research, Petkovsek said. The workers in one of their offices, with pastel blue walls, continuously complained of being too cold, wore sweaters and layered clothing. When they repainted the room in a pastel pink, the sweaters came off and the complaints stopped. The temperature in the room had not changed.

Color substantially influences what we purchase. Advertising executives know a product can be a hit or a flop based on the color of the packaging.

Who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn’t get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool? Pink wouldn’t work at all.

McDonald’s high-energy colors of red and yellow appeal to children, kindle appetites and create a sense of urgency. It might not be the same ridiculously big chain it is today without using red and yellow so effectively.

Starbucks uses green as its primary color. Using green shows that Starbucks hopes to promote a sense of relaxation in their cafes, welcoming patrons to come in for a break during a stressful day.

Colors affect people in different ways, Petkovsek said. Colors are processed though our sense of sight. What we see is perceived and transformed through our memories and experiences. One person may have a positive reaction to a certain color, another negative, because of their childhood experiences.

There is also a relationship to culture, she added. Different cultures, different nationalities and the traditions of each affect how we perceive colors.

Males are “doers,” she said; red is the action color and the basic color of male energy. Blue is the basic color of female energy — blue like water, flowing, nurturing. There is a duality here, as males are generally drawn to blue as their favorite color; females to red shades in the red spectrum.

Using colors to dress and to decorate your home or office has a massive impact on you, from your productivity and energy levels to your creativity and overall happiness. There are several websites and books that give details.

Betty Ann Petkovsek, Silver Mist Connections, can be reached at 315-717-3164 or see her website: