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Color Effects

Color Effects Color in the environment and how persons perceive can greatly affect their productivity and mood. Each person has a different abilities of being able to screen out various stimulus that is around them. Low screeners have a difficult time ignoring overpowering stimulus in their environment while high screeners need to perceive a great amount of stimulus to work to the best of their ability. Mood is affected by color, when a person is in a red room to long they can become agitated and confused. A person in a blue room is more relaxed.

This study looks at the affects three different color schemes on college students ability to perform well on a test. The Affect of Color on Low and High Screeners The way we perceive color can affect our emotions and productivity in many different ways. Certain colors can make us excited or stimulate while other colors can leave us feeling helpless or overwhelmed (e.g., Murray & Deabler, 1957). Violet can leave individuals feeling sad or fatigued while red can induce anger and tension (e.g., Levy, 1984). What if the color around us could actually help us feeling calm or excited in different appropriate circumstances.

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In college settings there are many times that students sit through hours of lectures without any outside stimulation and other times students take very involved test that can leave them feeling very out of control. Sitting in a lecture hall can make students very tired and their minds soon begin to wander so that they are stimulated instead of just watching a professor talk. I can remember sitting in many lecture halls trying to keep focused on the professor, but the classrooms are often so plain that the mind begins to drift. If certain colors were in the environment of a lecture hall students may feel stimulated to grasp more of the subject that a professor is speaking on. When students are in a lecture hall taking a test they may be over stimulated and colors around them that are calming may help them to concentrate to the task at hand.

Previous research on color and how it affects humans has been limited to only showing participants color swatches or lights and the data has been very inconsistent from study to study. In Levy-s research blue was associated with a calming affect while Stone and English (1998) found that blue surroundings can induce depression. Levy has also found that warm colors such as red can provoke active feeling. Kwalleck, Woodson, Lewis and Sales (1997) have seen that red can cause disphoria and confusion. In current research I have not found two studies that exactly agree on the effects of color in our environment. Most homes, offices and institutions are mainly the color white which has had little research conducted.

Most of the research conducted on the white stimuli was with light and not with the walls in an environment. Few researchers have actually assessed the effects of interior color and light. Gerard (1958) tested participants in a one stimulus condition and found that red produces more alertness and blue produces more relaxed feelings for individuals. Color in these findings does not seem to affect heart rate. Levy conducted research that had students look at a screen with different colors presented to each individual. After the exposure participants filled out the Profile of Mood Status, POMS, which asses mood status.

Levy-s research connected color to emotion and not productivity in any type of task. Participants associated blue with sadness, green with assertiveness, and orange with anger. It was also seen that if the individual was exposed to light blue they had an aroused feeling of relaxation. Stone and English among other conditions tested color in the workspace. It was found that a low stimulating task, such as typing names into a computer, can benefit from the color red in the environment. With the extra stimulation individuals performed better in their jobs that were not high demanding.

When working in blue rooms with a high demand task individuals became overwhelmed. In the high demand task all of the names and addresses that needed to be put in the computer were very similar to each other. One benefit from the blue room is that individuals felt like their workspace was more private and so in turn kept on task more. Kwalleck, Woodson and Robbins (1988) examined effects of the color red versus blue in the environment. Participants were given a typing task and asked to rate their mood while in the room.

The researcher found that their was no significant differences on mood. It was found that individuals who remained in the red room experienced more anxiety and stress then participants in the blue room. Kwalleck, Woodson, Lewis and Sales (1997) also conducted a study that concentrated on the effects of color on workers performance and mood. These researchers also came to the conclusion that many researcher have not really studied color and what it does to an individual. The researchers realized that different people perceive these colors at different rates of stimulation.

Before beginning their research they gave their participant a test that would asses whether they were a ?high¦ screener or a ?low screener as determined by the Mehrabian-s Stimulus Screening Questionnaire. This questionnaire measures the individual differences in automatic screening of and habituation to irrelevant stimuli ( Kwalleck et al., 1997) Low screeners are individuals who can not screen a lot of incoming sensory information. These researchers put different participants in rooms that had been regulated in color and light. Every room used had the same amount of light and there was not a window in the rooms. One room was painted completely white including the door and the desk. Another room was painted with red on the top 75% of the wall and blue-green on the bottom 25% of the wall was red.

For the third room the top 75% of the wall was red and the bottom 25% of the wall was blue-green. Subjects performed a variety of office task throughout the week with each person completing the same amount of work. Each worker filled out a POMS questionnaire once at the beginning of the day and once at the end of the day. The MCT, Minnesota Clerical Test, which measure clerical speed in different task was administered on the morning of the first day and the afternoon of the fourth day. The results of this study showed that workers who were low screeners performed more poorly in the red office then those who were considered high screeners (Kwalleck et al., 1997).

It was also true for the reverse with high screeners performing worse in the blue-green room then low screeners. High screeners are not affected by the arousingness of the color red so they are able to perform their duties to the best of their abilities (Kwalleck et al., 1997)). Low screeners are very distracted by the incoming stimulus to a point were their performance deteriorates. In contrast, the blue green office is very relaxing so that the high screeners are not getting enough arousal to reach their optimal level of performance. Low screeners are more near to their optimal level of performance in the relaxing blue-green room. Results for the white room were not listed for high or low screeners in performance.

Performance was not effected by any of the color schemes until individual screening abilities were taken into account. Kwalleck et al. (1997) believed that one explanation to this is the Yerkes Dodson principle. This principle proposes that arousal and performance go up together until a point. After reaching the optimal level of arousal, any increase in arousal will lead to performance decreasing. Generally more cognitively complex task require less arousal to reach an optimal performance (Kwalleck et al., 1997).

In relation on the effects of color on mood it was found that workers in the red office reported more disphoria than workers in the blue-green off …


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