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Does Seeing a Color Affect a Person's Performance?

Many people are aware that color can have an affect on mood, but research also has determined that seeing certain colors can affect mental processes. In fact, people who see the color red are likely to do more poorly on a test or exam. Some studies indicate that cooler colors, such as blue or green, tend to promote concentration and increase creativity and other cognitive skills.

More facts about color and performance:

  • Not all studies agree regarding the effects of red on test scores. One school of thought holds that in cultures where red is perceived to be a sign of danger, the potential for breaking concentration and leading to lower test scores is greater.

  • Different studies exploring the connection between color and performance have used different criteria. Some studies have focused only on the reaction to specific hues, and other research has considered additional elements such as brightness and saturation.

  • In addition to test scores, research into the connection between color and performance has involved tasks such as changes in comprehension levels while reading and in performing simple tasks such as arranging a collection of files in alphabetical order.

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Discuss this Article

anon294987
Post 10

In the philosophy of ancient India, there are three fundamental modes in which people work: the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance (called 'sattva', 'rajas' and 'tamas' respectively in Sanskrit). Each mode has a specific color associated with it. Red is associated with rajas (the mode of passion). Thus, according to this philosophy, those who are predominantly passionate by nature, prefer red to other shades.

Conversely, the red color is also believed to promote the mode of passion in an individual. This can perhaps explain why an individual performs poorly in a test when he or she sees red. Since, according to this philosophy, red promotes the mode of passion in the mind, and the mode of passion keeps the mind turbulent, one finds it difficult to concentrate on the test.

On the other hand, the mode of goodness (sattva) leads to the mind being calm and concentrated. Hence white color (which is associated with the mode of 'sattva') may have a positive influence on the performance of a student in a test.

anon292193
Post 9

RE: Post 8--I find that totally fascinating. That would make a great study or thesis. To me red is a happy, beautiful, rich and "safe" color. Every time I have worn red, people have said to me, "Wow, red is your color! I can't believe how good you look tonight in red." I have fair skin, and red gives me color.

In my living room it is black and white with red accents. However, I like green and white bedrooms and baths. My best friend drives a bright blue car. I find it ridiculous and unsophisticated.

Every person sees differently. But your son, he must have had an imagination so great, he saw what he thought things should be. Amazing.

anon291312
Post 8

Interesting. My son, now age 50, did average in school, and he saw red where no one else did. My son saw red on our black and white TV. If we tried to explain there's no color on the screen except tones of grey, he'd say yes there is. Look at that lady's lipstick and nail polish, they're red.

Ditto for parts of airplanes he'd see on TV. Certain panels on the outside of the planes were red to him, and the control stick in the cockpit was bright red. It didn't matter what kind of plane it was, that black control stick, to my son, was red!

anon291306
Post 7

Why is it that, as a student, I can't see what is written on the whiteboard if it's in red? I know something is there but can't read it. However, in blue or black I have no trouble. Very strange.

anon291259
Post 5

As a young boy (many years ago) whenever I wore red I got beaten up by the other kids. I took to wearing navy blue. Much safer.

anon291248
Post 4

That is very interesting. So I should look at the color green or blue before a test, right?

anon291245
Post 3

Oh, I love the spin of red as an indication of safety. Nice. Also, red can be associated with warmth and cooked food.

momcat
Post 2

Is that the thinking behind a red power tie worn by men? Restaurants are generally red because you eat more in a red environment. Are they flipping colors around while you're taking a test? If so, that would mess with my concentration and make me score lower.

anon291193
Post 1

If you see this in a positive way, red is indication for safety as why we have indicators of red lights for traffics and locomotives.

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