The Science Of Primary Colors

Colors are all around us. We see them all the time. They can influence our emotions, our actions and how we respond to various people, things and ideas. The meaning of colors, symbolically and emotionally, can vary widely from culture to culture and person to person. That’s because how we react to a particular red or yellow has a lot to do with how we’ve been programmed by our culture and our personal past experiences. The following is a list of primary color meanings throughout the world.

The Science Of Primary Colors


Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the “fight or flight” instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.

Positive Meanings of Red:  Virility, Sex, Passion, Love, Heat, Daring, Boldness, Independence, Action, Dynamism, Energy, Speed, Attention Grabbing, Sexy, Fun, Excitement, Vigor, Vitality, Courage, Strength

Negative Meanings of Red: Danger, Evil, Aggression, Anger, Violence, Death, Blood, Martyrdom, War, Revolution

Meaning of Red in Different Cultures:

  • Western: energy, excitement, action, danger, love, passion, a warning to stop, anger, Christmas combined with green
  • Eastern: prosperity good fortune, worn by brides, symbol of joy when combined with white
  • China:  the color of good luck and celebration, vitality, happiness, long life,  used in many ceremonies from funerals to weddings, traditionally worn on Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity
  • India and Pakistan: color of purity, fertility, love, beauty, wealth, opulence and power, used in wedding ceremonies, a sign of a married woman, also color of fear and fire
  • Thailand: color for Sunday
  • Japan: life, anger and danger
  • Cherokees: success, triumph
  • South Africa: color of mourning
  • Nigeria: usually reserved for ceremonies, worn by chiefs
  • Russia: associated with the Bolsheviks and Communism, means beautiful in Russian language, often used in marriage ceremonies
  • Australian Aborigines: represents the land and earth, ceremonial color
  • Hebrew: sacrifice, sin
  • Christian: sacrifice, passion, love

The Science Of Primary Colors


The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our “yellow streak” can surface.

Positive Meanings of Yellow: Spirituality, Enlightenment, Luminosity, Sunlight, Cheerfulness, Happiness, Optimism, Hope, Energy, Intuition, Manifestation, Opportunity, Alertness, Awareness, Wisdom, Intelligence

Negative Meanings of Yellow: Cowardice, Deceit, Betrayal, Jaundice, Illness, Faithlessness, Unrequited Love, Hazard, Emergency

Meanings of Yellow in Other Cultures

  • In Japan Yellow means Courage and Nobility
  • In Islam Yellow means Wisdom
  • Hindus consider Yellow a Sacred color
  • Buddhist monks wear Saffron Yellow robes
  • In many Middle East countries Yellow represents Golden Prosperity
  • In Egypt Yellow is reserved for Mourning
  • In India Yellow is the color used by Merchants
  • To Native Americans Yellow is the symbol for unconditional Love
  • In China Yellow represents Honor and Royalty

The Science Of Primary Colors


Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world’s favourite colour. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional and unfriendly.

Positive Meanings of Blue: Spirituality, Faith, Calmness, Serenity, Void, Vastness, Cleanliness, Fresh Air, Unconscious, Subconscious, Calming, Contemplative, Contentment, Fidelity, Trust, Security, Intelligence, Confidence, Technology, Futurism, Success, Power

Negative Meanings of Blue: Sadness, Depression, Ambiguous, Insubstantial, Cold, Aloof, Austere, Formal, Immoral, Chilling, Staid, Old-Fashioned, Authoritarian, Conservatism

Meaning of Blue in Other Cultures

  • In Christianity the Madonna is usually clothed in Blue to symbolize virtue.
  • In the Jewish faith, Blue is the color of holiness.
  • In Hinduism Blue is the color of the god Krishna.
  • In China Blue represents immortality.
  • Philosophers in Ancient Rome wore Blue robes to show their rank.
  • In Japan Indigo Blue is often used in art and clothing and symbolizes the vast ocean surrounding the islands.
  • In Ancient Egypt the skin of the god Amun was painted blue to signify the divine.
  • In Germany employees being dismissed are given Blue Letters or “Blaue Briefe”.
  • In France deep Blue is strongly associated with Royalty and Aristocracy.
  • Some Native Americans believe the color symbolism of Blue means using intuition to serve and teach.
  • In Iran Blue is the color of mourning.

Do let me know if you want to know more about colors! 🙂

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