Effects of color on emotions

J Exp Psychol Gen. 1994 Dec;123(4):394-409. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.123.4.394.


Emotional reactions to color hue, saturation, and brightness (Munsell color system and color chips) were investigated using the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance emotion model. Saturation (S) and brightness (B) evidenced strong and consistent effects on emotions. Regression equations for standardized variables were; Pleasure = .69B + .22S, Arousal = -.31B + .60S, Dominance = -.76B + .32S. Brightness effects were nearly the same for chromatic and achromatic colors. Blue, blue-green, green, red-purple, purple, and purple-blue were the most pleasant hues, whereas yellow and green-yellow were the least pleasant. Green-yellow, blue-green, and green were the most arousing, whereas purple-blue and yellow-red were the least arousing. Green-yellow induced greater dominance than red-purple.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal
  • Color
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Euphoria
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors