Study Reveals the Impact Colour has on our Moods and Emotions

If your colleagues are wearing black today, it might be a good idea to give them a wide berth, new research reveals.

The study of 2,000 Brits by Arla’s Best of Both (BOB) examined the relationship between the colours we wear and their impact on our moods. It found that those feeling stressed and angry are more likely to wear black than colourful clothing.

For those feeling more positive about life, yellow is the colour chosen most commonly for happiness, while red evokes confidence.

The study found that it isn’t just the colour of clothes that people are judged on –the colour of your home, the car you choose to drive and even your shade of nail polish all affect how others view you.

The study, published on International Colour Day and commissioned by Arla’s BOB – the newly launched skimmed milk sporting a yellow lid that tastes as good as semi-skimmed – also found that colour plays an important part in first impressions.

According to respondents, a green outfit is a sign of intelligence, blue shows you’re reliable, white suggests you’re traditional, yellow says you’re happy and good humoured, while pink suggests immaturity and should be avoided both on a date or in a job interview.

More than half of those polled feel that the colours you choose to wear to different events can influence how successfully those events go.

And just under two thirds felt the colour you wear to an event or social situation will directly impact how you feel while attending.

But despite these findings, 47 per cent of Brits actively shy away from wearing colour. Standing out too much or feeling a colour choice wasn’t flattering were the biggest reasons to stick to dark or neutral tones.

Working with psychologist and colour expert Honey Langcaster-James on the study, Arla’s BOB aims to shine a light on the psychology of colour, to tie in the International Colour Day on 21 March. The new milk was given a yellow top by Arla to reflect people’s attitudes to this cheery colour.

Jessica Hardcastle, of Arla Foods UK, commented:

“We took three years to develop our new BOB milk and when it came to deciding what colour bottle top this innovative product should sport, we did our research carefully. Red, blue and green have long dominated the milk aisle and we wanted a colour that provided stand out and conveyed the exciting new product we had created. We know that colour is very important for first impressions – something that this study shows. We also know that yellow is a colour that not only catches our attention but is associated with happiness, optimism and enlightenment. So the yellow-top milk bottle was born!

“With this study we wanted to delve a little deeper into the psychology of colour, and it’s really interesting to see that so many believe they are judged by the colours they wear, and so many judge others on their colour choices. But a big proportion of Brits are afraid to use colour in their lives.

“We’re working with Honey Langcaster-James to develop some expert tips on how to colour craft successfully, and we hope that people up and down the country will find them useful. And if they are feeling joyful that they don’t have to compromise on taste any more with our BOB milk, they can pop on a yellow top to celebrate!”

Honey Langcaster- James commented:

“The survey conducted by Arla’s BOB reveals fascinating insights into the psychology of colour. It is clear that people believe they are judged on the basis of the colours they wear – and they also admit to judging others based on the colour of their clothing. Yet most people do not then ‘colour craft’ themselves successfully. Instead, Brits tend to stick to wearing dark or neutral tones. Understanding how to ‘colour craft’ and wear different colours for different occasions and circumstances can give you the edge and influence a range of outcomes in your life.”

The study found some interesting gender differences when it comes to using colour. Women reported being much more affected by colour and more likely to use it to their advantage than men. Women were also more likely to say that their mood changes when they put on a different colour and to say that wearing bright colours conveys a happier mood.

The study also reveals that a third of people make presumptions about other people’s mood based on the colours they are wearing that day.

BLACK- anger, stress, shyness, overweight
RED – confidence, loudness, manic
YELLOW – happiness, joy
BLUE – calm, relaxed
WHITE – slim, tanned
GREY- tired


RED- loud, confident
GREEN – intelligent, approachable
BLUE- reliable, approachable
YELLOW- loud, happy
BLACK- sophisticated, conservative
PINK –immature, confident
WHITE- traditional, confident


RED- ruthless, confident
GREEN – intelligent, quiet
BLUE – intelligent, trustworthy
YELLOW –joyful, good-humoured
BLACK – intelligent, money-driven
PINK – immature, confident


RED- passion, fire, danger
YELLOW- summer/sunshine, happiness
BLUE – sky, sea
GREEN – nature, vegetables


• Wear Yellow more often. Yellow was found to inspire positivity – 43 per cent of respondents said it’s a colour to wear when you feel happy, and 41per cent associated it with the joys of Spring. So for an instant mood boost, or to appear happy and youthful to others, add a splash of yellow. The survey also found that people will think you’re good-humoured when wearing yellow, making you more attractive to others.

• Avoid Black. Despite the popularity of black for its slimming effects, the study found that it is also associated with stress and anger, so if you want to approach your boss for a pay rise, maybe wait for a day when he or she is wearing something more colourful! You should also avoid wearing this colour yourself if you don’t want to be seen as stressed, gloomy or angry.
• Be careful with Grey. Wearing grey is most likely to leave you feeling tired or drained so avoid this colour unless you’re really feeling upbeat and positive. You can notice if your friends are feeling a little drained or exhausted by keeping watch for this colour and offering more support and friendship if someone you care about seems to be wearing this colour a lot.
• Wear Red at appropriate times. If you want to appear confident, strong and powerful you could choose to wear red as the survey found it is associated with confidence and power. However, it is not a good colour choice if you want to seem approachable as it can also be associated with danger.
• Wear White in moderation. Wear white if you’re feeling slim, fresh and healthy or if you want to show off a tan but psychologically, white was found to suggest that you’re traditional and conservative so you may want to choose a more dynamic colour if you want to make more of a statement.
• Use Green and Blue to win at the game of life. If you want to make a good first impression, at a job interview for example, you could choose to wear green or blue. Green was found to be associated with intelligence and Blue was found to convey reliability.
• Avoid wearing Pink. Wearing the colour pink was found to suggest immaturity so you would be better off avoiding this colour for anything where you want to make a good impression, for example on a date or at a job interview.

About the Author

Adam McBride
Blogger specialising in business, startups, the economy and technology.