We are in the middle of nature, on a closed night and with storm clouds covering the light of the Moon and the stars. Darkness and darkness make it hard to see, something is only broken by the light of lightning. We don’t know what’s around us, if something or someone is hiding here, or even if we’re about to hit a cliff.
In this context, something that has been common throughout human history, darkness is obviously a great and scary thing. And the truth is that the color associated with the absence of light, black (although in nature it is practically impossible to find complete darkness), has dragged this design through history and acquired a certain symbolism that continues today, and can cause different effects on our psyche. and our behavior (which has in fact been observed by both psychology and other sciences and even the arts). What does the meaning of black mean in psychology? Let’s take a look at it throughout this article.
The absence of light
Before you start to assess what the color black entails, you must first assess what that color is. In general, the perception of color occurs by the arrival in the eye of certain wavelengths of light which occur during the absorption of objects that are part of the light and reflect the rest so that they can reach our eyes. In other words, colors come and are in fact the product of the capture of light by our eyes.
In the case of black, this is not the case. Traditionally, black has been viewed as the complete absence of color, as opposed to white which would involve mixing all colors. But in reality more than the absence of color (in the end and in the head we do not stop perceiving it, and also at the level of the pigment in the background the mixture of all the colors would give black), we should talk about the absence of light. And this is because visually, if we see a black color, it is because the object in question (or the dye that penetrates it) absorbs all the wavelengths of light that reach it, and does not therefore cannot be reflected in our retina.
Likewise, we see this color in total darkness, and for identical reasons: black is the product of the absence of light arriving in our eyes. In short, one could say that the perception of black is, in fact, not the perception. But the truth is, it’s complex that no light is reflected at all, which allows us to detect different types of black.
What does the color black mean?
As with the rest of the colors, over time, black has acquired symbolic and psychological significance (In turn influenced by symbolism) based on the elements that have been associated with that color. Specifically, the most obvious connection between black is darkness and night, that is, the absence of light. And in that sense, he was granted a series of links, mostly negative. In fact, we are probably faced with the color that has received the worst consideration, being its union with other reasons why its symbolism turns negative.
In this sense, we link the dark with the unknown, the frightening, the dark and even the evil. It is a color associated with what scares us and what we cannot see (a logical thing given that in the absence of light the only thing visible is darkness). It also makes it associated with aspects that are also unknown to us and scare us, the most famous being death (This is one of the colors most associated with mourning, but not the only one). It is also linked to loneliness, suffering, sadness and desire.
Also with cruelty, lies, manipulation, betrayal and cover-up. Negation is considered, the antithesis of what is visible (for example, if light red represents energy and passion, its association with black is often related to violence and excess) and danger. More too it has been linked to individualism and introversion.
On the other hand, although traditionally they particularly appreciate the negative aspects with which the truth is related, it is that black also has more neutral, even positive connotations. This is the color of mystery (which doesn’t always have to be negative), seriousness and elegance, in addition to that of nobility. Perhaps because of its connection to death, it is also often related to strength and power, the absolute and domination and autonomy. Also of rebellion against the established. And although it may sound strange, sometimes even with the peace and the end of the pain. It is also a symbol of simplicity, order and interior life.
Psychologically, black tends to generate a feeling of doubt and mystery, and can generate both fear and curiosity. It is associated, according to Eva Heller, with youth and impartiality. Furthermore generates a sense of elegance usually suggests security and strength, As well as the distinctiveness. Its practical use usually leads to the appreciation of others for greater reliability and even attractiveness. It also generally gives an impression of sobriety and formality. But it can also cause feelings of intimidation, distance, and arrogance if given in excess. It also generally generates a feeling of protection for the user and an attenuation of the emotional, even restriction and inhibition of his expression.
The use of black in everyday life
Although it has always been a frowned upon color, black is used in a large number of fields and contexts.
One of the contexts in which the use of black is most well known is probably that of funerals, being one of the most common colors of mourning in Western society. However, black is suitable for many celebrations, some much more cheerful. For example, this is the color that brides usually wear at weddings, due to its link with strength, security and formality.
Beyond specific social events, black is often used as it stylizes and easily combines with almost any color. It is common to use in people who do not like to attract attention. In some cases, it can also be used to appear to be mysterious or rebellious. On top of that, it’s a color that tends to absorb heat, something to avoid in already hot environments or look for in cooler ones.
It is a color that is also useful in the workplace, give a feeling of seriousness and professionalism during job interviews. In many trades, it is usually a common color due to the aforementioned relationship with seriousness and fairness, as in the case of judges.
As for its use in homes and inside buildings, it usually gives rise to an impression of masculinity and sophistication. However, it is not advisable to paint a room completely black, as it will give a feeling of constriction and smallness and it will probably be linked to mental states of the depressive type. When it comes to business meetings, their connection to cover-up doesn’t make them entirely appropriate beyond specific elements, either.
However, the use of decors and black elements as a contrast will generate the feeling of sobriety evoked above. As with clothing, the fact that it absorbs heat can also be appreciated.
At the level of marketing and advertising, it is often used in brands that aim to generate a vision of elegance and exclusivity, strength and purity. It is generally linked to luxury, with gold.
The color black in different cultures
The meaning of black is generally what we talked about above, but it should be borne in mind that different cultures have a different relationship with this color.
Specifically, in desert regions, black is usually related to rain, with thunderstorm clouds of this color. In ancient Egypt it was a growth and fertility symbol. Today, African tribes such as the Maasai also associate black with life and prosperity, as they are often associated with rain.
Other cultures like Japan link it to femininity, as well as mystery. In ancient China, he was considered the king of colors. These cultures often associate black with the element of water, as well as with childhood. This color is believed to give us spiritual strength, related to the energy known as chi. It was also considered beautiful, to the point that it was once considered beautiful to stain teeth in this color.
As for religions, Christianity often identified it with evil, death and pain. although also the rejection to the material thing. In the case of Judaism, too, it has been associated with death and misfortune, and in the case of Islam, it is associated with pain and sadness (Although the Kaaba in Mecca is black, it is believed to be of white origin but has been stained with the sin of men). In India, he is also associated with nothingness and evil, although it is nevertheless used as protection against him: the goddess Kali has skin of this color, being the goddess who fights against evil.