If you think about possible meanings of the color blue, it’s very likely that the first image that comes to mind is that of an open and clear sky. And that should come as no surprise, as it evokes the tranquility of this setting and the sensation of shelter and spaciousness.
However, this color encompasses a large number of meanings, as it has an influence on almost all aspects of mental life. Throughout this space, you’ll be able to explore them and learn a little more about the psychology of color. Let’s get started!
The physical characteristics of the color blue
Before starting with the subjective part, we’re going to review the characteristics of this color, which is, literally, light. Despite the fact that colors have an inevitable influence on the mind and on the lives of humans, the truth is that they’re not real: They’re perceptions created by the brain.
- Wavelength: The color blue is perceived when the wavelength of the perceived light measures between 460 and 482 nanometers.
- Saturation: This is the intensity or purity of the blue hue. This color can vary its saturation. In some cases, it’s very pure, in others, it’s more contaminated. Therefore, its saturation is lower.
- Intensity: Its tone can go from light and soft to dark and deep. It all depends on the amount of light that’s reflected or addressed by the surface on which it’s projected.
- Brightness: Like saturation and vibrance, brightness can change as well. It’s usually shiny or dull. It all depends on the light that’s reflected on the surface.
- Refraction: Compared to other colors, blue has a higher refractive ability. This means that it easily changes its direction when it passes from one medium to another with a different density.
- Frequency: Blue has a shorter wavelength and higher frequency than other colors, such as red.
- Perception: The way we perceive it depends on the cones in our eyes and the electrical signals received by the brain.
Blue is a color with very particular features that allows us to admire the sky with its different shades. Although it’s widely recognized and observable, its meaning isn’t very familiar to many people.
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Meanings of the color blue
Beyond its physical characteristics, blue is a very present color in people’s lives. Along with brown and green, it’s one of the colors of nature, as it’s perceived in the sky and in large expanses of water, such as lakes or seas.
- Tranquility: Blue is related to calm. This’s why it’s used to promote relaxation in bedrooms or waiting rooms. Research published in Frontiers in Psychology found that calmness and a preference for the color blue were linked.
- Happiness and sadness: In many countries, it’s a color associated with sadness. Despite this, in others, it’s more linked to joy. In fact, a study from i-Perception found that blue is more associated with positive emotions.
- Fidelity: In her book Color Psychology (2004), Eva Heller points out that blue is related to fidelity. Also, many people connect it with sympathy, harmony, friendship, and trust.
- Safety: Blue is considered to have some influence in decreasing street crime. A relationship has even been found between blue lights and a reduction in suicides. Regarding these possible effects of blue, it’s worth clarifying that the scientific data isn’t yet conclusive.
- Creativity: A study carried out by Ceylan, Dul, & Aytac (2008) indicates that cold colors enhance creativity in the workplace, which allows us to generate new ideas. These positive effects may be a consequence of the calm that these types of colors generate.
- Productivity: Color and productivity at work have long been associated. However, the scientific evidence is inconclusive. In this order of ideas, a color scheme that mixes neutral and blue tones improves the conditions of the office, which could have an impact on productivity.
- Well-being: According to a systematic review of the effects of color in the work environment, blue, like green, is associated with feelings of well-being.
- Performance: Blue is also correlated with cognitive performance. A study on color and alertness has revealed that blue light enhances the perception of alertness and improves performance in activities that require attention.
According to its shades, other things that the blue color means in psychology are the following:
- Light blue: Generosity, peace, security, and stillness
- Dark blue: Honesty, prudence or moderation, order, seriousness, and stability
- Navy blue: Infinity, commitment, fidelity, sacred, and royalty
- Turquoise: Creativity, mental clarity, introspection, balance, and emotional control
This color has been used to decorate and illuminate many places in different contexts of life. Its relationship with wisdom, purity, and respect makes it a stimulus in academic and spiritual environments.
What does the color blue mean in marketing?
Although everyone resists it to a greater or lesser extent, the truth is that marketing is one of the areas where communication has the greatest impact. And, precisely, blue is the most appropriate color to improve communication, as it transmits positive qualities and is one of the colors preferred by the largest number of people.
Companies rely on the color blue to give customers an image of productivity and safety. At the same time, its close relationship with stability, trust, and knowledge makes blue an ideal color for products related to health and science.
An investigation from the Journal of Business Research shows that consumers prefer the blue interiors of fashion stores. Also, this color was associated with:
- More favorable evaluations
- Greater emotionality
- Increased sponsorship intentions
- Increase in purchase intention
Blue is related to competence, as it’s linked to confidence, intelligence, efficiency, communication, duty, and logic. Furthermore, it can have a positive impact on how a brand’s competitiveness is perceived.
Blue and spirituality
What the color blue means in psychology isn’t the same as what it alludes to in spirituality. If we move on to more abstract and symbolic issues, spirituality is one of the aspects of the human being that draws the most from what the color blue means. It’s directly related to the mental world, imagination, and inspiration.
For example, in the Bible, blue is associated with obedience to the divine and the eternal–that is, with the commandments. In fact, the tablets of the ten commandments were made of sapphire.
Throughout spiritual traditions, the color blue has been associated with divine energy and connection. It’s considered the symbol of purity, truth, and peace. Many people think that this color can open spaces for communication with the cosmos.
At the same time, in different cultures, blue is used to promote peace and harmony in spiritual ceremonies and rituals. Likewise, some relate it to the healing and purification of the soul and body.
The color blue in different cultures
Living in a bounded social ecosystem often makes us believe that the world is more homogeneous than it really is. There’s no need to look around too much to find very different worlds in terms of the use of color. Here are some examples of what the color blue means in the psychology of other cultures:
- Chinese culture: Blue represents healing and harmony, although it’s sometimes associated with evil.
- Muslim culture: Blue is the color of the protection of the sky and of economic power.
- Indigenous cultures of South America: Within the enormous variety of mythologies and peoples that exist on this continent, blue is often related to the sacred and the spiritual world.
- Nahuas: Blue was the color of the south and of Huitzilopochtli, the founder of Tenochtitlán.
On the other hand, in ancient cultures, such as Egypt, the color blue was the representative of temperance and wisdom within humans. In Ancient Greece, it was the color of the gods who lived in the sky, like Zeus, who wore a cloak of this hue.
Blue is a cool color that evokes the serenity of a clear sky. However, its psychological meaning goes beyond its physical perception. It’s believed to be associated with fidelity, security, creativity, well-being, trust, purity, and divine connection.
What the color blue means in psychology varies from culture to culture. Therefore, it has received different meanings, ranging from peace to healing and the sacred. Its multiple facets and tonalities generate a wide range of emotions and behavioral responses that influence the perception one has of it and of the world.