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  • "Colours are lights suffering and joy"

  • That was a quote from the Theory of Colours, published back in 1810 by Goethe, a German

  • writer. He wrote about how colours are perceived by humans, how they make us think and feel.

  • "Red conveys an impression of gravity and dignity, and at the same time of grace and

  • attractiveness." "The appearance of blue is gloomy and melancholy." "Yellow carries with

  • it the nature of brightness, and has a serene, softly exciting character."

  • Goethe's definition of colour by our experience of it was dismissed by the scientific community,

  • physicists like Newton knew colour was wavelengths of visible light.

  • But Goethe's colour wheel is beautiful in it's simplicity and in it's recognition of

  • how our environment affects our psychological states.

  • Let's fast forward 200 or so years. In somewhere like Times Square, vibrant, plentiful colour

  • is just part of the landscape. Our use of colour has evolved from the realm of artists

  • to the art of persuasion.

  • Colour plays a huge role in recognising brands, advertisements and creating the store environments

  • that influence our purchases so much.

  • Research shows red creates a sense of urgency, it increases our heart rate and leads to spontaneous

  • purchases. Blue is calm, cool and leads us to be more well-considered in our spending.

  • Researchers found a correlation between pleasant emotions and the wavelength of a colour, so

  • people felt more pleasant when they were exposed to short wavelength colours, like blue.

  • One study even looked at how blue and red influence our shopping behaviour. Two stores

  • were constructed, one with a red colour scheme and one with a blue colour scheme. Participants

  • were given some money and the task of buying a TV. It was found there were longer browsing

  • times and more purchases in the blue store.

  • Another study found that shoppers are 15% more likely to return to a store with blue

  • color schemes than those with orange color schemes.

  • But these studies just group colours and effects together. What about brightness and saturation,

  • the intensity of a colour? And of course there's more than colour involved, there's influences

  • like smell, music, temperature and salespeople.

  • Atmospherics is the conscious designing of space, including all of those things, to create

  • specific effects in buyers... really the effect of buy, buy, buy and come back soon to buy

  • more. Supermarkets, for example, consider the height of shelving, the intensity of lights

  • and the style of floors to try and create a rustic, marketplace feel, so you're comfortable.

  • And buy more.

  • As more and more people now shop online, atmospherics and the art of persuasion are evolving into

  • more of a science. Researchers are monitoring the brain activity of their participants while

  • they're browsing and shopping online.

  • One study used fMRI and showed subjects a number of potential products, like different

  • types of chocolate. They found the activation in a certain brain area (NAcc), normally associated

  • with reward processing, was positively correlated with their decision to buy the product.

  • There are lots of factors in an online environment that lead to the activation of this area,

  • and your purchase. Some factors you tend to notice, like design cues such as where the

  • text is placed on the screen. Studies have shown that text placed to the right of the

  • item can have more influence on someone buying it than text placed on the left side. But

  • ambient cues, like music and colour, are thought to be processed subconsciously.

  • Another study showed that a couch sold twice as well when a furniture website had a blue

  • background than when it had a green one. Researchers said perhaps the green background reminded

  • people of money and made them more reserved, where the blue triggered a relaxed state of

  • mind.

  • This may all seem trivial, but colour has been shown to influence our mood, behaviour

  • and what we buy, whether it's in store or online. And 200 (or so) years after Goethe

  • we're still asking questions about just how colour affects emotion.

  • Back in the 1800s he said "We shall not be surprised to find that colour's effects are

  • immediately associated with the emotions of the mind."

  • It's just a few years too late for Goethe to be tickled pink with some supporting evidence.

  • If you haven't already, subscribe to BrainCraft! I have a new episode out every other week.

"Colours are lights suffering and joy"

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The Psychology of Colour, Emotion and Online Shopping

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    Sofi posted on 2014/04/10
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