Essay, Research Paper: Color Effects

Psychology

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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. 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
office. Low screeners reported more disphoria then high screeners in the rooms
with a red color scheme. Low screeners also reported more disphoria in the white
walled room. This was explained by that low screeners can not ignore the
starkness of the white pigment while high screeners can. The goals of this study
are to find out what testing conditions are best for low screeners and high
screeners. The hypothesis for this study is that low screeners will have higher
test scores in the blue room then the high screeners. In the white control room
and the red room the high screeners will have higher test scores because they
need more stimulation in their environment for optimal performance. Low
screeners need less stimulation to reach their optimal performance levels. I
believe that all participants will have less confusion and depression in the
blue room. This research will involve three different college classes in three
different color scheme rooms, white, red, and blue. I will have the students
take a test that shows whether they are a high screener or a low screener. Equal
amounts of low and high screeners will be put in each room and then be lectured
to by a professor about a subject not previously covered in the class. I will
then have the students fill out a test that shows what they are feeling in the
classroom and then they will take a test on the subject lectured on. I believe
that a wide range in emotional state and test scores will be found in each room.
In the blue room students will feel calm but the low screeners will test better
than the high screeners. In the red room I believe that all students will feel
more agitated but high screeners will test better in this room. In the white
room I believe that the starkness of the color will affect the low screeners but
high screeners will test higher, but not as high as in the red room. I believe
that POMS questionnaire results will be higher after the test then before.
Method Participants Participants will be freshman college students in a
introductory psychology class. There will be approximately 90 students; 30
students in each color scheme. Materials Three different classroom settings will
be used for this experiment each with a different color scheme. The white
control room will be a normal white classroom that most college campuses use.
The red room will have everything identical to the white room but the color of
the walls will be red. Except for the color of the walls the blue room will also
be identical to the red and white rooms. I will use average household paint
mixed to a light true blue and a deep red. When students first enter the
classroom they will take the Mehrabian▓s Stimulus Screening Questionnaire
(Kwalleck et al., 1997). This is a 40-item, 9-point scale instrument which
measures differences in screening and habituation of stimuli that is perceived
in the environment. Responses for each question range from +4 (very strong
agreement) to -4 (very strong disagreement) with a score of 0 being neutral
between the two. Scores of -25 and above define a high screener while scores -24
and below denote low screeners. After the lecture the Profile Mood of status (POMS)
will be used to evaluate the participants emotional status in the room. This is
a paper-and-pencil test that reveals six different mood factors:
Tension-Anxiety, Depression-Dejection, Anger-Hostility, Vigor-Activity,
Fatigue-Inertia, and Confusion-Bewilderment (Kwalleck et al., 1997).
Participants rate their feelings on a five point scale of 0-4 which stands for
⌠not at all■ to ⌠extremely■. I will also use a 25
question multiple choice test on the topic covered in the lecture. Design and
Procedure Subjects will be told that they are participating in this experiment
for class credit and will fill out consent forms before the experiment begins.
Two days before the real experiment students will take the Mehrabian`s stimulus
test that will show whether they are a low screener or a high screener.
Participants will then sign a form attached to the consent form that says that
to their knowledge they are not color blind. These test will be taken and scored
and each room will be given approximately the same amount of high and low
screeners on the testing day. Students will entered the color room they are
assigned to and listen to a 30 minute lecture from a topic in their class. After
the lecture students in each classroom will be asked to fill out the POMS
questionnaire that will rate their emotional status in the classroom and how the
color around them is affecting their emotion. After all questionnaires are
turned in the professor will pass out a 25 question multiple choice exam that is
based on the earlier discussed topic. Students will be allowed thirty minutes to
take the test and then once again will take the POMS questionnaire. After the
last questionnaire is turned in the subjects in each classroom will be given a
debriefing form with information about the study. Results I would expect to see
in the results of this study that the test scores will be highest for the low
screeners in the blue room and the high screeners will have their highest test
scores in the red room. In the white room test results will be higher for the
high screeners but will not be as high as in the red room. I believe that the
POMS results will show that participants in the red room will feel the most
agitated and confused. The white room will have some confusion but mostly for
low screeners. The blue room data will show that all participants are the most
comfortable emotionally in this room even though high screeners will not test
well in that environment. Discussion With these results I believe that test
taking can be taken to a whole different level in schools. Instead of taking
random sections of courses students would be able to take a section that is in
the color that they perceive to be more stimulating. By being stimulated to the
perfect degree students would be able to get more out of lectures and be able to
concentrate more on their test than what is around them. This type of research
will help low screeners more than high screeners because they have a hard time
sorting through all the stimuli they are presented with. Traditional classroom
are usually a white or cream color and this data will show that this type of
environment will hurt the learning capabilities of low screeners. Kwalleck et
al. (1997) have shown that workers that are high screeners do work better in an
environment where they perceive the extraneous stimuli to be high. On the other
hand they found that low screeners do better when extraneous stimuli is low.
Other literature points to the fact that color affects different persons
different ways, but that it does have effect on our daily duties. In the future
I believe that research should be done on children to see if the same phenomena
is present in them. The gender factor should also be looked out to see if men or
women range differently in high and low screeners.

BibliographyGerard, R. M. (1958). Differential effects if colored lights on
psychophysicological functions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 43, 107-112.
Kwalleck, N., Lewis, C. M., & Robbins A. S. (1988). Effects of office
interior color on worker`s mood and productivity. Percept, Motor Skills, 66,
123-128. Kwalleck, N., Woodson, H., Lewis, C. M., & Sales, C. (1997). Impact
of three interior color schemes on worker mood and performance relative to
individual environmental sensitivity. COLOR Research and Application, 22,
121-132. Levy, B. I. (1984). Research into the psychological meaning of color.
American Journal of Art Therapy, 23, 58-61. Murray, D. C, & Deabler, H. L.
(1957). Color and mood tones. Journal of Applied Psychology, 41,279-283. Stone,
N. J., & English, A. J. (1998). Task type, poster, and workspace color on
mood, satisfaction, and performance. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 18,
175-185.
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