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Color Effect on Emotions Study by Valdez & Mehrabian Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 22nd, 2020

Patricia Valdez and Albert Mehrabian are American psychologists who cooperated in order to investigate the way various colors affect human emotions. These professionals performed their duties at the University of California that was located in Los Angeles. Both of them represented Department of Psychology and were among their outstanding members. Nevertheless, it is significant to pay attention to the fact that Valdez was a person who actively worked on this research, as she developed a dissertation on the mentioned topic. Her paper was supervised by Mehrabian, which proves that he was a professor who also revealed his interest in the connection between colors and people’s emotions. In addition to that, it is possible to state that Mehrabian was the one to whom all concerns related to the article selected for this research should have been addressed.

Even though the authors developed their work in 1994, it is possible to claim that it is worth discussing today, as the ideas revealed by professionals deal with basic emotional reactions and characteristics of color that do not alter with the course of time. Even though there is a possibility that each person perceives colors in a unique way and that contemporary individuals cannot differentiate as many variables of color as their predecessors because of the regular interaction with intense colors, “Effects of Color on Emotion” appears to be one of those works that contribute to the psychology of color significantly. They based their work on the information revealed by other professionals in such topics as “(a) color reactions as functions of personality and psychopathology, (b) physiological reactions to color, (c) color preferences, (d) color effects on emotions, (e) color effects on behavior, and (f) reactions to color concepts (Valdez and Mehrabian 394). In particular, the authors focused on hey, saturation, and brightness of blue, green, red, black, white, and yellow associated with pleasure, arousal, and dominance.

Research developed by Valdez and Mehrabian started with the literature review that revealed the basics of the psychology of color. As soon as professionals managed to ensure their understanding of general concepts and ideas, they also discussed the peculiarities of the pleasure-arousal-dominance emotion model that was used further as the major research tool for their three studies. The authors hypothesized that 1) pleasure and arousal are associated with a positive correlation of brightness and saturation while dominance with negative; 2) short-wavelength hues are pleasant while long-wavelength hues are arousing. The first one was meant to find out how color saturation and brightness influence people’s emotions (in particular, 103 male and 147 female undergraduate students of University of California participated). The second research study focused on the effects of ten color hues and included 47 male and 74 female participants.

Finally, the third study discussed the influence of five achromatic colors and included 7 male and 18 female participants. As a result, professionals managed to reveal that “pleasure was simply a joint positive function of color brightness and saturation, being influenced more by brightness than by saturation. Arousal increased linearly and strongly with color saturation… Dominance increased linearly and moderately with color saturation and decreased sharply with increases in color brightness” (Valdez and Mehrabian 406). These findings supported researchers’ hypotheses, and the fact the results obtained in each study separately were similar to one another proved that they were trustworthy. Moreover, the authors associated obtained information with the use of colors in everyday life. For instance, they discussed the way artists and designers select colors in order to affect consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. Thus, the significance of this article for practice can be considered.

Finally, it is possible to conclude that the discussed paper turned out to be rather interesting and valuable for its readers. In particular, it is advantageous that it provided basic information about color reactions and effects on human beings because this knowledge made it easier to perceive following research and its findings. With the help of this article, readers managed to realize that blue, green, and purple colors appeal to the representatives of the general public the most and are generally considered to make people experience the feeling of pleasure, unlike yellow. In addition to that, green color and its variables turned out to be the most arousing while green-yellow was associated with dominance. These facts can be advantageous for both psychologists and designers because they provide an opportunity to shape and alter human behavior when needed.

For instance, these professionals can surround people with particular colors in order to make them more active or to calm them. Considering the limitations of the discussed study, additional recommendations can be made for these or other professionals to develop this work and make it even more valuable. It would be advantageous to develop a study that reveals gender differences in effects of color on emotions because the samples of this research included more women than man. As differences in their emotional reactions and perception of colors are widely discussed, it would be advantageous to consider it in the described framework as well. In addition to that, the connection between color and particular stimuli on emotional reaction should be investigated, as people tend to perceive blue food adversely even though this color is pleasant.

Work Cited

Valdez, Patricia, and Albert Mehrabian. “Effects of Color on Emotions.” Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. 123, no. 4, 1994, pp. 394-409.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Color Effect on Emotions Study by Valdez & Mehrabian." September 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/color-effect-on-emotions-study-by-valdez-amp-mehrabian/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Color Effect on Emotions Study by Valdez & Mehrabian'. 22 September.

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