The Surprising Other Psychological Associations for Popular Paint Colors

published Jan 27, 2016
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

There’s a big list of reasons why a particular paint color won’t work out when you bring it home and get in on the wall. And somewhere below “it looked different on the paint chip” and above “it makes the carpet look like barf” is this curious problem: It doesn’t vibe with my brain.

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We know colors have natural psychological associations, but the list for each hue is long and complicated. While most people find a green room restful, another might find it makes them physically sick. Really. Here is a quick list of the typical and not so typical mental connections for every paint color:


What you expect: Darkness, Sophistication, Mourning
What else it can inspire: Value. Black communicates elegance and prestige, and that can have the effect of making a thing look more expensive.


What you expect: Passion, Warmth, Anger
What else it can inspire: Coziness. Red objects seem closer to you than if they were another color.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)


What you expect: Warmth, Fun, Courage
What else it can inspire: Hunger. Orange is as stimulating to your appetite as it is to your sense of adventure.

(Image credit: Sibylle Roessler)


What you expect: Joy, Optimism, Creativity
What else it can inspire: Low self-esteem. Yellow has a tendency to make you more mentally analytical and critical, including being self-critical.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)


What you expect: Nature, Balance, Rest
What else it can inspire: Sickness. If your shade of green has a yellow tint, your brain might associate it with illness.

(Image credit: Lydia Brotherton)


What you expect: Serenity, Intelligence, Trust
What else it can inspire: Cold. Literally, physical coldness. People who are cold prefer warm colors around them for that reason.

(Image credit: Beth Bates)


What you expect: Spirituality, Royalty, Mystery
What else it can inspire: Depression. The last and shortest visible wavelength inspires introspection and can aggravate depression in some people.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)


What you expect: Purity, Peace, Simplicity
What else it can inspire: Isolation. White can feel too pristine to our brains sometimes.

Do you get any of these unexpected feelings from these colors?