Color Paradigm Shift

This post will be about colors and emotions. Especially about modern relations between colors and emotions.

Old School?

Take a look at this color wheel of emotions, it is available in high resolution and better quality online as PDF.


Let’s question several colors exclusively, e.g. Red, Orange, Violet, Blue, Yellow…


The color wheel says it is about feeling angry, irate, frustrated, aggravated. Really? What about Christmas cards and stripes? They are all red. Santa Claus is all red. St Valentine stuff is all red and it is about love. All wedding packages are using red for love and passion. On metropolitan maps you have “You are here” in red. On Google Maps you have red location balloons. Women’s lips are red. Children character Mickey Mouse is red. Strawberries, watermelon, cherries, apples, pomegranates are red. There are so many positive reds in the nature, society, technology etc. and they are no way negative. Instead they are pretty positive.

Orange, Yellow

The color wheel says orange is nervous, worried, concerned, confused; yellow is afraid, apprehensive… Let’s see what we have and use in orange and yellow and check out emotions. Oranges are no way nervous or concerned, it is common daily juice. Yellow dresses are cool. Orange Lambo is standard color and all good with emotions.

Violet, Blue

The color wheel says violet is disgust, distate, disappoint; blue is sad, grief. Let’s check it around us. What about violet fairy? Violet lavender fields, violet blossom? Blue is common on concerts, check out pleasant folk music by Blackmore’s Night… Horizon is often blue and there is nothing sad about it.


The perception of colors is different today, seems it was different for years. That emotion color wheel is wrong. There are so many real life cases when vivid violet, orange, blue are used and it looks positive, emotionally positive. Check out cutting-edge wearable products from Jawbone, ensure there is nothing wrong with the colors at all. Emotions are driven by combinations, via balance, via synergy, but never by damn single color.

Don’t know how to add more vertical space before headers. WordPress usability sucks.

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5 thoughts on “Color Paradigm Shift

  1. Rost Y says:

    Вася, there’s nothing about colors at all. Emotions are driven by girls in jeans and/or without jeans,

  2. hlibovych says:

    Modern UI uses colors that are bright, vivid, and pleasant for the eye nowadays. I guess they’d be regarded as ‘acid’ or ‘extremely unnatural’ in other historical period or in other culture. I believe that bright colours are popular because they sell stuff better, and that’s a compromise between what is still pleasant and what draws the most attention. Perhaps in a few years usual colours will be even more electric, fluorescent or ‘acid’ as it will be acceptable shift.

    The most constrast object draws children’s attention too: there is even app with black and white lines that helps infants to develop retina. (infant visual stimulation). That’s may be the root of Mickey Mouse success.

    Red is also popular because of Coca cola introduced Santa Claus in their corporate colours for Christmas campaign, so red became colour of Christmas and gifts. Another point red is color of alert (blood, flesh), so you’d draw your attention to red things from the evolution point.
    Green is really the only one positive colour in the diagram you’ve mentioned for the same reason — read about Savanna effect in 125 principles of design. If the landscape is green, you’ll get enough harvest, it’s neither too hot or too cold, there may be some animals for hunting and so on.

    Luscher investigated colours from academic perspective, and he succeeded try this test yourself and ask yourself again if the perception of colours shifted or is it still traditional. My result shows that marketing cannot fool the evolution.

  3. Wladi says: //

    This color wheel isn’t a dogma.

    Remember there is no right or wrong way to think of emotions. Our Color Wheel is one possible guide that might help you visualize the ideas. If it does not work for you, try to understand the feelings behind the emotions and then make a visual representation that you can use.

    • Vasyl Mylko says:

      Absolutely! I struggle with dogma people on red-green color-blindness issue; could not prove red-green is most blind prone while red-blue least prone if you want bright colors. May be such people still use that color wheel exactly that way. I personally think nowadays we are off those meaning towards more acid agile colors. See another comment above.

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