Research Round #1- How does color affect mental state?

Hey everyone,

This is my first round of research with my question “How does color affect mental state?”. For this round,  I thought it would be best to first define what color is, how people perceive color, and finally what typically each color can represent-  for an example moods or association.


What is color?

Without light, one would not be able to see color. Light comes to the earth from the sun in waves, and some of those waves are longer than others, and some are shorter than others. We see those different wavelengths as all the different colors of the rainbow. For an example, the color red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest. When all these waves are put together, the color white is made. White is a color that most consider to be “colorless” but that is not true. If you were to shine white light through water, you’d make a rainbow. The water actually breaks apart the colors white has, which shows you all the colors on a light spectrum.  Our eyes have cones inside them that helps us see the waves as colors.(1)

How do we perceive color?

When light hits an object, the object will absorb some of that light but the rest will be reflected. That light will go into the eye first through the cornea, which will then bend light into the pupil. (2) The pupil will put the light through through a lens so it can go into the retina, which is a layer of nerve cells at the back of the eye. (2,3)

The pupil is a dark hole in the front of the eye that lets light into the eye so an image can be formed in the retina. (2,3) The iris, which surrounds the pupil, has muscles that controls pupil size. When in a dark environment, the iris will expand the pupil as much as it can. This allows as much light possible into eye, which enhances sensitivity. This generally takes from a few seconds to a minute to happen.(2)

The cones cells, which are along the retina is what controls color vision in the eye.  The cone cells detect the different kinds of colored light that are in the image being processed. Human eyes have red green, and blue detecting cone cells to process the color being seen. These cone cells have a light sensitive chemical called rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is highly light sensitive and the main chemical that is being used by the cone cells while seeing in a dark environment.  However, rhodopsin is so sensitive to light that under regular lighting conditions, it is deactivated and deformed by the light. Due to this, rhodopsin is usually deactivated during the day. Then when exposed to darkness, the rhodopsin is able to reform itself and activate again.(3)

The last main part of vision are the rod cells, which is what controls the black and white vision in the eye.  Similar to the cone cells, rod cells also contain rhodopsin. However, they rely on rhodopsin a lot more to see in the dark than cone cells do.  To put that in perspective, one singular rod cell is about 100 to 1000 times more sensitive than one cone cell. There are approximately 100 million rod cells on the retina, and 5 million cone cells on the retina. With rod cells, several cells connect to the same output signal, or the same interneuron. This means that in darker environments, images can still be detected but at a lower resolution. (3)

Color association

Here are what colors are typically associated with


  • Authority(4)
  • Power(4)


  • Innocence(4)
  • Purity(4)


  • Most emotionally intense color(4)
  • Love(4)
  • Anger(4)


  • Calmness(4)
  • Cold(4)
  • Sadness(4)
  • Loyalty(4)


  • Nature(4)
  • Refreshing color(4)
  • Calming color(4)
  • Wealth(4)


  • Happiness(4)
  • Cheerfulness(4)
  • Concentration(4)


  • Royalty(4)
  • Wealth(4)
  • Sophistication(4)
  • Feminine(4)


  • Genuineness


The website I got this from goes much more in depth into each color, I just pulled out the key points. So if you’re interested, feel free to check out the website!






In my next round,  I will be researching about what a mental state and what is considered a healthy mental state. This would include topics such as what makes up a healthy mental state, what makes up an unhealthy one and what factors actually contribute to shape a mental state.  If you have any ideas, questions or comments for me, feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading!

4 Replies to “Research Round #1- How does color affect mental state?”

  1. Hi Rhea,

    Your research was very interesting, honestly could keep ready on and on. It such a complex thing how we actually see color. Other areas to touch maybe would be how color blindness affects those ways our eyes reflect light or even how the weather may affect our mental state. As i have noticed from the past when its raining and grey I feel tired, slow, sometimes even sad versus when its sunny out I feel energized and happy, just some possible suggestions. Overall great research round 🙂

    Hope to hear from you soon !

  2. Hi Rhea,

    Your topic is super interesting! I love how you are going to incorporate colours with emotions/feelings, because I believe we all have experienced it first hand, but don’t know what provokes it. For example, cold colours can make someone feel sad/upset and the opposite for bright colours. Very interesting!

    Here are some websites that could help you with your research:

    I look forward to reading your future posts!
    Jessica O’Brien-Visbisky

  3. Hey Rhea,

    I’m learning about colour and how light travels when it hits your eyes and I also think it is really fascinating. The research you included about the parts of the eye and how colour is perceived is very informative and laid out in a good manner. Did you know that the colours we see are only the reflected light wavelengths? for example, if a shirt we see is blue, the material actually absorbs light on the opposite side of the colour spectrum (orange) and reflects blue light to the eyes. The part you did on cones can also explain why some people missing or in lack of certain cones are colourblind. Good work so far, I’m excited to see more of your research and how colours affect your mental state!

  4. Hey Rhea,
    Great new inquiry question, relating to how colour affects mental state! I love your association of colour to emotions and feelings because it is quite common to hear someone is blue which is refering to sadness, but uncommon to hear colours such as brown as genuineness. I’m quite curious to learn about your upcoming research and findings because personally, I believe people associate themselves with specfic colours with their daily moods through simple expressions such as the colour of clothing we wear. However, it could be interesting to learn about how a colour blind individual is affected? Does colour have an impact on your life? Anyways another awesome research round, and here are some links on colourblindness.

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