Friday, February 6, 2009

Red is Best! But Blue is Good Too!

Valentino Retrospective, copyright Ingrid Mida (2007)

I love red! It is a powerful and provocative colour, evoking confidence. Red is also the colour of passion and life. Wear a red dress and you will be noticed in a sea of black!

Red is a lucky colour for Chinese brides and believe it or not, red was a popular choice for European brides until the 19th century. In Russian, the word "krasnoi" means both "red" and beautiful". What a lovely way to sum up the power of red!

Yesterday new research from the University of British Columbia concluded that the colour red can boost the brain's attention to detail. As well, they found that the colour blue boosts creativity. These results were based on six studies conducted on 600 undergraduate students at UBC.

On one of those tests, students were presented with either a red or blue background on their computer screen. Those with the red background were able to more accurately recall a list of items compared to those with a blue background.

On another test of creativity involving red or blue toy parts shown on a piece of paper, those with the blue toy illustrations were able to create more creative toys.

The research coordinators, Dr. Juliet Zhu and colleague Favi Mehta, believe that the effects of blue and red are "learned associations" and may vary across cultures.

Red is typically associated with danger, and "if you're trying to avoid something, you're likely to be more vigilant and careful, so you're more mindful when you do the task that requires attention to detail" says Dr. Zhu.

The colour blue is often associated with the expansive blue sky and oceans, which may be the key to creative thinking. Dr. Zhu explains that "these things are open, free and peaceful".

While this study goes on to link potential impacts on marketing and product design, to me it reiterates what I've instinctively known. Red is best when you want to draw attention to yourself, creating the impression of power and confidence. Blue is best when you want to convey a more calm and peaceful demeanor.

And the next time I have a creative slump, I'm going to change my computer background to blue!