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Annu Rev Psychol. 2014;65:95-120. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115035. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Color psychology: effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans.

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Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627; email:


Color is a ubiquitous perceptual stimulus that is often considered in terms of aesthetics. Here we review theoretical and empirical work that looks beyond color aesthetics to the link between color and psychological functioning in humans. We begin by setting a historical context for research in this area, particularly highlighting methodological issues that hampered earlier empirical work. We proceed to overview theoretical and methodological advances during the past decade and conduct a review of emerging empirical findings. Our empirical review focuses especially on color in achievement and affiliation/attraction contexts, but it also covers work on consumer behavior as well as food and beverage evaluation and consumption. The review clearly shows that color can carry important meaning and can have an important impact on people's affect, cognition, and behavior. The literature remains at a nascent stage of development, however, and we note that considerable work on boundary conditions, moderators, and real-world generalizability is needed before strong conceptual statements and recommendations for application are warranted. We provide suggestions for future research and conclude by emphasizing the broad promise of research in this area.

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