Post: Can colors evoke emotions in readers? 


Color psychology is the study of colors in connection with human emotions. Have you ever noticed that looking at certain colors makes you feel a particular way? Not only do studies show that colors can affect emotions, there’s also evidence that various issues, such as your age or cultural background, may have an impact on the way you feel about a particular color. 

While partiality to a specific color may be unique with each person, some colors seem to have universal symbolic meanings. As an author, perhaps, you can incorporate colors into your stories, through written description or illustrations, to evoke certain emotions in your readers. 

How do these colors make you feel?

The following list includes basic colors, along with emotions they are known to symbolize:

  • Yellow—joy, hope, danger
  • Red—passion, excitement
  • Purple—royalty, nobility
  • White—purity, truth
  • Black—mystery, cold
  • Green—nature, growth
  • Blue—hope, calmness

What emotions do these colors evoke in you? If you were developing a character in a story, how can you use color to bring him or her to life? For instance, if you wanted readers to feel a cold chill about a dark and mysterious character, you probably wouldn’t dress him or her in blue. Black might be the better choice; don’t you think?

Colors can be warm, cold or neutral

Colors themselves do not have a temperature. However, color psychology analysts often say that colors can be categorized into three groups: warm, cold or neutral. Colors that are warm include hues like orange, gold, yellow and red. Colors in the cold category are blue, green and purple. Neutral colors are gray, taupe, beige and tan. 

Which category do you feel would best fit a character in a book who is powerful, confident, business savvy and clever? What about a character who is timid, shy and kindhearted? It’s interesting to consider how color descriptions or illustrations can bring out a particular personality in a fictional character. 

Pay attention to the colors around you this week

Try experimenting with colors for an entire week. From what you wear to things you see around you. Note whether certain colors stir up particular emotions, such as joy or serenity or anxiety or anger. Once you get a feel for it, try incorporating more colors into the next story you write. And, if you’d like to learn more about color psychology, this article is a good starting point.