February 5, 2011

I'm glad my room isn't red. By: Ge G.

It always interested me how the colors around us are believed to be able to affect our feelings or behavior. I’ve heard for example that orange is supposed to make us feel hungry, blue is supposed to make us feel calm, and green is supposed to make us feel refreshed. I know all these because we had just recently renovated our house and color (how it affects us, in particular) was such a big deal to my parents.

Their room used to be light blue because it apparently made them feel peaceful and tranquil. During the renovation, my dad decided to make their room yellow instead because it seemed happier and more welcoming. He also decided to make my sister’s room green (without her consent - she just came home one day to find her room had become green) because he thought it was refreshing and pleasant. I thought it looked gross, and so did my sister. But she studies in New York and only spends one month a year in her room here at home, so she didn’t bother complaining. I, on the other hand, was horrified by the thought of coming home one day to discover that my room had suddenly become baby pink or purple or whatever other color my dad thought would be nice – so I made him promise not to paint my room until I decided what color I wanted it to be.

I poured over interior design magazines and websites for days and finally decided that I wanted my room to be red. It was perfect because I imagined it would look so good with the dark mahogany furniture I already had, plus it’s actually my favorite color. I was so excited about the idea, but when I pitched it to my parents, they gave me a big fat NO. Apparently a red room might make me feel angry and irritable and increase my blood pressure. UHHH OKAAAAAAY. Haha. 

So I didn’t get my red room. My room is beige and brown now, and I actually really like it, but I still wonder what it would’ve been like if I got to paint my walls red.

Interestingly, I came across an article about the relationship between the color red and performance attainment. Studies have shown that colors can actually induce different physiological reactions that are expressed in our psychological functioning. Some colors are more stimulating and disagreeable (those with longer wavelengths, such as red) while others are more calming and agreeable (those with shorter wavelengths, such as blue and green). Supposedly, colors with longer wavelengths or those that are more stimulating, like red, can actually impair complex task performance. Red is also believed to induce more heuristic processing which affects cognitive performance. In this experiment, participants were presented either with red, green or an achromatic color as the cover page of their achievement task booklet. The achievement tasks were either language-based or number-based tests. In one part of the experiment, they also tested for avoidance motivation by letting the participants choose items to answer based on the difficulty level they wanted. What did they find out?

Results indicated that the participants’ perception of red did significantly impair performance on the tasks versus the presentation of green or an achromatic color. They also discovered that the participants who were exposed to red showed more avoidance motivation by choosing easier test items to answer.

Wooow, it’s a good thing I didn’t end up painting my room red. I’m not sure about the blood pressure and anger stuff my parents were talking about, but if perceiving red can impair my cognitive performance, it’ll definitely be a problem. Red may be my favorite color, but my parents were right: it isn’t a good color for a bedroom. Remind me to thank them tomorrow. Haha!

Oh yeah, and it turns out my sister’s green room isn’t so bad after all :)

Elliot, A. J., Maier, M. A., Moller, A. C., Freidman, R., & Meinhardt, J. (2007). Color and Psychological Functioning: The Effect of Red on Performance Attainment. Journal of Experimental Psychology. 136(1), pp. 154–168.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! I'll try to remember not to wear a red shirt on exam days :o