It’s been said that how we see ourselves affects how we see the world. The opposite is also true. How we see our world may affect how we see ourselves. That’s why the choice of colors on our living room walls or the color of our clothing plays a role in determining our moods or ability to process information. We intuitively know that calm minds make for better feeling and learning and science backs it up.
According to researchers in the field of color psychology, each color has a magnetic wavelength that enhances or inhibits learning. Lower wavelength colors are relaxing and higher wavelength colors are activating.
So, what colors aid intellectual processing? According to researchers, it comes down to three: green, blue and orange.
Why green? As a low wavelength color, green creates relaxation. Think of a green meadow or trees.
A study led by Dr. Kate Lee, examined 150 university students. She gave the group a boring, monotonous task that dragged their attention span to a breaking point, pressing a series of numbers over and over as they read off a computer screen. The students were told not to press keys when the number three appeared on the screen. Then break time came, and in a 40-second window half of the group viewed a green roof, while the others looked out onto a bare concrete roof. Research showed that students who looked at the green view made fewer errors and had overall better concentration.
Dr. Lee concluded that the green roof provided a ‘restorative experience’ which helped boost the mental resources of the students involved in the study. Click here for the entire study.
Blue is also a low wavelength color. The key is to find the right shade of blue for optimal learning. Dark blue makes a person somber so it’s best to use a hint of an energizing color like orange.
Students on cognitive overload need this color to maintain productivity. Using a blue highlighter or color coding work pages are effective ways to keep learning going!
Color theorists state that orange increases oxygen to the brain thus stimulating mental activity. Increased oxygen supply energizes and enhances any learning experience.
Like green, the shades of orange need to be carefully selected so overstimulation does not occur. Angela Wright, a Color Psychologist, believes bolder orange hues may lead to overstimulation so they wouldn’t be good choices for students with ADD.
On the other hand, orange with low saturation keeps learners calm and focused. It even improves neural functioning. Some researchers believe that painting an exam room with soothing orange improves performances on tests.
It’s good to know that we can control our environment to produce higher levels of cognitive output. Think green, blue and orange!