The Psychology of Purple…

No one can argue that color doesn’t have meaning. Color is more than accent piece, wall coating, or throw pillow; it has a profound effect on our lives. Color can bring about a variety of emotions, affect our moods, and influence our behaviors.

Color has different meanings and values in different cultures around the world. Even in similar Western Societies, the significance of certain colors changes.  In the United States, researchers have determined that there is a consensus across the country on what effect individual colors have on the emotions, moods, and behaviors of individuals.

We covered the color Blue, Grey, Pink, and Green in the past color psychology posts. This week the color is Purple.

The shortest wavelength of light is violet, which of course is most commonly referred to as purple. Since Purple is a blend of red and blue, it comes in warm, reddish, more passionate hues and in cooler, bluer hues of complex plum and indigo. The psychological effects of the color purple are directly related to and dependent upon on warmth or coolness of the hue.

The blue hued purples can be seen as serene or calming and many perceive them as having a mysterious and spiritual depth.

The red hued purples demand more attention and can dominate a room and if used poorly may appear cheap, gaudy, or tasteless.

Purple embodies the balance of red’s stimulation and blue’s calm. This dichotomy can cause unrest or uneasiness unless the undertone is clearly defined, at which point the purple takes on the characteristics of its undertone.

“Oh, I love red. I’m very loyal to my colors. I love violet.” –Elizabeth Taylor

Purple takes awareness to a higher level of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introverted and encourages deep contemplation, or meditation.

Purple usually communicates the finest possible quality. It is a rich, deeply satisfying, complex color that can add real luxury to a room.

Being the last visible wavelength before the ultra-violet ray, purple has associations with time and space and the cosmos. Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection and the wrong tone of it communicates something cheap and nasty, faster than any other color.

Some of purple’s psychological effects are rooted in colors historical association with royalty and power in the Western World. This association derives from the fact that the color purple was so expensive that only very rich people could afford it. Purple color was originally ‘harvested’ at the coast, from the glands of the murex shellfish.

The color purple plays an important part in the Catholic Church. It is the color of penance and martyrdom. Painters have often used purple color for the dress of the Virgin Mary and Cardinals wear a reddish hue of purple as a sign of their office.

Purple does not often occur in nature, it can sometimes appear exotic or artificial.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field
somewhere and don’t notice it.” –Alice Walker

With a sense of mystic and royal qualities, purple is a color often well-liked by very creative or eccentric types and is the favorite color of adolescent girls.

They psychological effect of purple can be physically uplifting, encourage creativity, and calm the mind and nerves.

Purple is the color of fantasy, playfulness, impulsiveness, and dream states. In its negative mode, it can suggest nightmares, or madness.


7 thoughts on “The Psychology of Purple…

  1. Really interesting perspective on color psychology. Purple in ancient times also denoted royalty. I really love your designs. My grandfather was a commercial interior designer in SF. He designed the interior of the original Fox Theater in San Francisco and the interior for the original Sonoma Mission Inn. Both my uncles were designers as well.As a small child, I spent hours in their stores, completely entertaining myself feeling textures and comparing patterns! It becomes a part of you!

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