Yellow can be a cheerful, sunny colour that motivates you. Some people, however, find it tiring and annoying. For those of you who like yellow, here’s a tip: avoid painting your kitchen or bedrooms yellow. A survey showed that husbands and wives tend to fight more in yellow kitchens. Even babies cry more in a yellow room.
Green and blue, on the other hand, are supposed to be the colours of balance and harmony. They actually help lower blood pressure and heart rate and may have a healing effect on the body. Concert halls and theatres have a ‘green room’ where nervous performers relax before going on stage.
Very bright colours, such as yellow, red and orange are used both to warn and to attract. Birds, reptiles, fish and insects use brilliant combinations of colours to attract mates. Butterflies are an excellent example. Birds have the best vision in the natural world and, therefore, also come in beautiful colours and patterns.
Some predators use bright colours to attract their prey. Take for instance the spiny spider of Australia. When a researcher dyed the yellow back of a spiny spider black, he noticed that it caught less prey than with its natural colour.
Some animals also use bright colours to warn potential predators that they are nasty and poisonous. Others just imitate the warning patterns of dangerous animals to fool predators and protect themselves.
Around the world, colours are associated with different ideas, emotions and events. Some colour associations are similar across cultures, especially when it comes to safety. The most common colours for warning signs are red, yellow, black and white. It was decided in the USA in 1935 that all stop signs, which were yellow, should be red to match the red traffic lights. Today, stop signs around the world are red.
However, there don’t seem to be many similarities besides that. In South Africa, for example, red is the colour of mourning, whereas the Chinese believe that red brings good luck. Brides wear red on their wedding day, and babies are given the names at a red-egg ceremony.
White is a universal symbol of peace and innocence, but while in Western countries it symbolises birth, in China and Japan it means death.
Western brides carry something blue on their wedding day, since blue stands for love. On the other hand, blue is associated with sadness or heartbreak, as in ‘feeling blue’. But when asked for their favourite colour, one out of two people say it’s blue.