Red is the blood that flows through our veins, just as orange-red is the color of flames. The color red is one of the most excellent and quickly perceived in nature, quickly standing out and not being as common to observe as green or blue.
But he always closed a deep symbolism, perhaps the most visceral of all the colors that exist. Beyond the symbolic, red also has a psychological meaning and can even modulate our behavior. What does the color red mean according to psychology? Let’s take a look at it throughout this article.
The color red: what is it?
Before we start talking about what the color red symbolizes and means on a psychological level, it should be mentioned that color is not something intrinsic to objects or things, but is the result of the act of perceive. Simply put, we see things in red because our eye picks up certain wavelengths of light through a certain type of cone in our eye that our brain later interprets as that color.
In the particular case of red, the corresponding wavelengths are those between 654 nm and 700 nm, In fact, when considering red, there are a lot of nuances depending on their level of mixing with other colors. It is one of the three primary colors, the significance at the psychological level is influenced by its association with perceived stimuli of this color or some of its mixtures with other colors, especially with orange.
Symbolism and meaning of the color red at the psychological level
As we said in the introduction, the color red is one of the most symbolized generally on a psychological and even religious level, since a number of specific elements are perceived from this color. Specifically, the strongest associations of the color red are with fire (although oddly enough, the most common type of fire is usually orange) and with blood. By extension, it is also related to heat, sun, war and violence (in which blood is common).
It is a color which, as in other cases it reflects both aspects considered positive and negativeWhereas with black and vice versa, other colors are often frowned upon due to the relationship with violence.
From the psychology of colors, which studies the psychic effects of color resulting mainly from the social and cultural perception of these (symbolism) and its effect on the brain, we can highlight in the case of red the following associations .
Among the most positive, red is associated with warmth, passion and energy. It is also linked to affectivity, being in its positive pole also associated with love (although it usually has a more important connection to one of its derivatives, the pink), to sensuality and to sex. . It has also been associated with prosperity and power, As well as to force. Also to vitality and dynamism, to good health, to happiness and even to extroversion.
It is also common to relate to spontaneity and daring. In fact, psychologically, it has been observed that this color slightly stimulates more outgoing behavior. It has also been observed to be an activating color for humans and helps generate movement and take action to achieve their own goals. It is also linked to success, independence and autonomy and even life.
But its negative, blood-related connotations are probably much better known. In this sense, red has been associated throughout history with violent behavior, hatred, aggressiveness, lack of control, emotional lability, Excess and danger. Also with competitiveness (even if this connotation can be good or bad depending on whether it is taken to the extreme or not). It is sometimes linked to destruction, cruelty and death. It has been observed that the color red is also linked to thoughtless behavior and a tendency to ignore risk. In fact, there is the urban legend that people owning a car of this color usually have to pay more in insurance because of this association.
In short, we are faced with one of the colors in which the bipolarity of color symbolism is most clearly perceived, associating the two aspects as valued as love with concepts considered to be completely opposite, such as hatred in this case. It is the color of intensity and visceral, associated with a powerful and extreme emotivity and in fact helping to generate an intense emotional response.
Use of this color in different areas
All of the above aspects are not simply anecdotal or aesthetic, affecting and being taken into account in practice in a wide variety of fields. For example, the color red is generally not common in health centers beyond its symbol, due to its relationship to blood and pain. It is also often avoided in places where silence and reflection are needed, such as libraries. It is also not recommended for people who are already very excitable in themselves. because they can be overexcited.
However, it is common to use it to paint homes where you want to generate vibrancy and activity. It is common in clothing to express closeness, activity or strength, although on the contrary it can also be counterproductive if we are in situations such as job interviews as this is related to a lack of control, little commitment and a low capacity for thinking. It is also common in the case of working women in dresses or lipsticks. as an element of distinction and sensuality.
In the world of marketing, its connection to power and activity often leads various brands to use it with products. It has also been shown to stimulate action, thoughtless behavior, and consumerism, being used to improve the likelihood of purchasing. It is also often used in products aimed at a young and vital audience. It has also been observed to be a color that tends to stimulate hunger and consumption, which is common in food brands. Finally, it is generally used to signal the danger by his clairvoyance, Usually mixed with black or yellow.
And in other cultures and times?
We have seen the meaning given to the color red in general, but the truth is that in different parts of the world the symbolism of this color can vary to varying degrees.
For example, in China, it is considered a color of good luck and long life, Being usual its use in celebrations to attract them. In India, it is also associated with marriage, fertility, purity and power. Usually used in weddings, being a color associated with the clothing of the goddess Lakshmi (goddess of good luck, beauty and wealth). In South Africa it is used as a color of mourning.
Historically, in cultures and societies that have always lived in conditions of intense cold, the color red is primarily a symbol of positivity and life, due to its link with heat. Among them we can highlight Russia.
Conversely, in cultures where heat is the cause of suffering or even death, it can be seen as a negative symbol. Specifically, in ancient Egypt, red was seen as the symbol of evil and destruction, although it could also symbolize life and regeneration.
In medieval Europe it had a double reading; on the one hand red was linked with evil and guilt (Being many red-haired women accused of being witches and burnt at the stake), while on the other the color of blood symbolized Jesus Christ and the idea of sacrifice and redemption. In fact, this is why the Pope’s clothes were red and today cardinals wear this color. She also ended up being associated with women, an association still in force today.