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The Psychology Of Color, Summed Up In A Box Of Pencils

The Psychology Of Color, Summed Up In A Box Of Pencils

That color subtly affects behavior, mood, and thought is something most people know intuitively and that psychologists have backed up with research. In the 1980s, for example, scientists found that painting jail cells with a Pepto-Bismol-like hue calmed aggressive inmates, and the shade henceforth became known as “Drunk Tank Pink.” In the design world, marketing and branding experts use color psychology to influence consumers’ emotions and perceptions of products.


The Psychology of Color Pencil Set, created by The School of Life, an international organization dedicated to helping people develop emotional intelligence, offers a reminder of colors’ extraordinary power. It includes a short explanatory booklet and 12 pencils labeled with each hue’s emotions and mental states: hope (yellow), vitality (orange), adventure (light red), power (dark red), ambiguity (lavender), clarity (light blue), discipline (dark blue), sanity (green), realism (dark green), mellowness (brown), dignity (dark brown), and authority (black).

Given the multiplicity of colors’ meanings, both among individuals and across cultures, the pencil set’s declarative labels seem a bit like an oversimplification (for example, green is labeled “sanity,” but many know green as the color of envy; “mellowness” here is brown, going against the “mellow yellow” standard). Still, the set invites artists, designers, and dabbling illustrators to become more aware of the connections between color and mood.

The Psychology of Color Pencil Set is available from The School of Life for $27 here.CD