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Can Colors Influence the Workplace?

According to experts in several fields, including industrial-organizational psychology, neuroscience, psychology, and even sociology, colors have a very real and tangible effect on how people act, react, and even feel. Specific to the workplace, how do colors and their placement affect the human element? Here’s what we know.

Ranking: Top 10 Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

The Power of Color: The Science

Color is a powerful influence on the human mind. The reasons for this are believed to vary but are somewhat universally thought by the experts to involve deeply woven bits of survival information instilled by nature and evolution, one’s own cultural and personal experiences, and even matters of the brain’s interpretation methods for sorting incoming data such as that provided by color observation. In other words, there are many reasons why color is believed to be of such significance to the human psyche.

As to the workplace, organizations aware of these principles often do take advantage of their potential benefits. Utilizing a color known for its exciting effects, for example, might be utilized in a work atmosphere in which speed and intensity are important. For more specifics on individual colors and their effects, the following are some common examples.

Sample Colors and Their Power in the Workplace


Blue is considered one of the most calming colors and is widely revered for its symbolism of steadiness, trustworthiness, calm, and coolness. These very trait symbols are believed to be responsible for this color’s wide use in popular culture with regard to baby boys. At the workplace, however, this psychological emission can be quite valuable and is often used as such in places such as high-stress call centers, organizations built around cooling or cold products, doctors’ offices, and many others. According to Forbes, blue is believed to be the most widely accepted and satisfying color to the widest audience.


Green is somewhat similar to blue in many of its recorded psychological effects. Green is a color of agreement and is believed to be among the least stressful to the eyes and brain when viewed. For these reasons, green is also used in many of the same places that blue might be, and also in conjunction with blue quite often. Examples of green’s use in the workplace often include call centers, meeting rooms, child centers, educational facilities, in nature and eco-friendly areas of focus, and more.


Aside from the widely-held view by experts that yellow is the most visible color, it also has become very well known for its psychological likening to joy, cheer, energy, and even sometimes matters of drama, caution, and attention. Because of this range of output, yellow has historically been utilized in workplaces for an equally noteworthy range of purposes. “Safety Yellow” is a standard and even legal obligation in many work environs, gear, tools, clothing, and more. On the other side of its many purposes, yellow can be seen acting as a greeter as well as a secondary, accompanying compliment to other color schemes and messages at work.


The color red has an almost infamous backstory of being used for representations of daring, excitement, danger, heat, and even anger. In nature, it’s found accompanying fire, poisons, potent resonances and messages, and blood. As such, red is typically used more caringly and selectively in the workplace. Effective modes of placement here are those where excitement is desired and attention to detail and analytical thinking are not. Gaming and entertainment arenas, the sports car industry, and carnival fair and games are likely among some of the most recognizable utilizations of this color scheme to most.

From evolutionary reasons to current cultural influences and personal experiences, the ways in which colors manifest and affect the human psyche are definite. In the workplace specifically, “color psychology” as it is often called, can be used with great results for the employee and the intended customer alike. In conclusion, for those further interested in the subject of color psychology, the fields of industrial-organizational psychology, psychology, and neuroscience, as well as their affiliated associations, are those with which additional inquiry could be helpful.

Source: How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity (Infographic)