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Psychol Res. 2018 Sep;82(5):896-914. doi: 10.1007/s00426-017-0880-8. Epub 2017 Jun 13.

Color and emotion: effects of hue, saturation, and brightness.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychology, Section Experimental Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, 55099, Mainz, Germany.
2
Institute of Psychology, Section Experimental Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, 55099, Mainz, Germany. oberfeld@uni-mainz.de.

Abstract

Previous studies on emotional effects of color often failed to control all the three perceptual dimensions of color: hue, saturation, and brightness. Here, we presented a three-dimensional space of chromatic colors by independently varying hue (blue, green, red), saturation (low, medium, high), and brightness (dark, medium, bright) in a factorial design. The 27 chromatic colors, plus 3 brightness-matched achromatic colors, were presented via an LED display. Participants (N = 62) viewed each color for 30 s and then rated their current emotional state (valence and arousal). Skin conductance and heart rate were measured continuously. The emotion ratings showed that saturated and bright colors were associated with higher arousal. The hue also had a significant effect on arousal, which increased from blue and green to red. The ratings of valence were the highest for saturated and bright colors, and also depended on the hue. Several interaction effects of the three color dimensions were observed for both arousal and valence. For instance, the valence ratings were higher for blue than for the remaining hues, but only for highly saturated colors. Saturated and bright colors caused significantly stronger skin conductance responses. Achromatic colors resulted in a short-term deceleration in the heart rate, while chromatic colors caused an acceleration. The results confirm that color stimuli have effects on the emotional state of the observer. These effects are not only determined by the hue of a color, as is often assumed, but by all the three color dimensions as well as their interactions.

PMID:
28612080
DOI:
10.1007/s00426-017-0880-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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