Friday, 18 October 2013

Colour Psychology in Event Planning

What is colour psychology?

This is a relatively young field of study aimed at understanding how colours affect different individuals.  The purpose is to put the insights gained to practical applications.  Event planning is one such application.

We know that colours play a vial role in how living spaces are perceived.  We also know that different people lean towards different colour choices.  But do colours actually affect people's mood? If researchers are to be believed, yes.  But there are different schools of thought.

Schools of Thought on the Effects of Colour
  1. According to the first school of thought, different colours have different effects on people. Note that I did not say different people.  The mood shifts colours inspire are but the psyches's response to chemical reactions within the body; triggered by colours as the eye perceives them. This implies a generalised colour-mood association. Examples are, green being a soothing colour soothes everyone, just as pink tranquilizes. Therefore, in an office painted pink, work would pile up. Red stimulates and consequently, a red office would be the most productive.
  2. The second school of thought is that an individual's perception or reaction to colours is mostly the reflection of his or her culture. It's the implication of what a specific colour signifies within a particular culture that causes the mood shifts of the individual. 
  3. There's a third school of thought in colour psychology that believes how colours affect a person depends on his/her personality type.
What are Personality Types?
In 1921, Carl Jung published a book titled, "Psychological Types", where he postulated the theory that all human beings can be broadly classified into 8 personality types.  He attributed personal quirks to an individual's psychological type as opposed to passing off characteristic behaviour as an idiosyncrasy.  he put them into two  basic categories Introverted and Extroverted (Jung dubbed them extraverted) based on general attitude.  This categorisation transcends the boundaries of gender and geography.  He believed that the choice of attitude was not deliberate. Based on his studies, he further classified 'The Introverted and The Extraverted' into -

A. Extraverted Rational or Judging Types
  1. Extraverted Thinking Type
  2. Extraverted Feeling Type
B. Extraverted Irrational Types
  1. Extraverted Sensation Type
  2. Extraverted Intution Type
C. Introverted Rational or Judging Types
  1. Extraverted Thinking Type
  2. Extraverted Feeling Type
D. Introverted Irrational Types
  1. Extraverted Sensation Type
  2. Extraverted Intution Type
It is after an extensive study of Jung's book that Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the immensely popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessments. Interestingly, homeopaths too, base their analysis and treatment of patients, on Jung's 'Psychological Types'.  Also, read my post on personality types (varnas) as mentioned in The Gita.

In the 1970's Angela Wright of 'The Colour Affects' fame, sought to ascertain the relationship between colour groups and personality types. We've often heard of colours expressed in association with moods: 'he screamed till he was blue in the face', 'she blushed a pretty pink', 'they were green with envy', 'her face turned red with embarassment'... These mood-colour associations are easy enough to comprehend. But do people belonging to a particular personality type favour a particular colour group? According to Wright's research, there is a definite relationship.

Colour Groups and Personality Types 
The chances of a particular personality type choosing a specific colour group is probably not as random as it may at first seem.  After extensive research, Wright, grouped the huge palette of hues, tones and values that grade colours, into 4 groups (she calls them Families)
  1. Morning light 
  2. Dreamlight
  3. Firelight
  4. Starlight
She has made certain generalisations based on these studies. Her colour tenets can be summarised as follows.
  1. There are 4 distinct colour families.  Each of the colours within the family is in perfect harmony with each of the other colours within that family.
  2. She too catergorises personalities into 4 distinct types.
  3. Each personality type has an affinity to a specific colour family.
  4. Conversely, preference to a specific colour family can be the key to a person's personality type.
  5. Each of the different hues of a colour, effect well-defined psychological modes.
  6. Every hue has a representation in any one of the colour families.
  7. The effect of colour on the psyche is universal.
Note: It is not clear whether Angela Wright based her personality types on Jung's Psychological Types.

Imbibing Colour Psychology into Event Planning
Event planning involves both corporate events and personal events like weddings, baby showers, etc. When planning the colour palette for an event, it is important to consider the colour preferences of all the key players. Table linen, wall decor, flower arrangements and the general backdrop are all areas where the careful matching of the colour palette with personal preferences of the participants could make the event a smashing success.

A basic understanding of colour psychology will help you make the right choices and perhaps avert disasters. For instance, what to the bride is a lovely shade of pink could be perceived as a dull and insipid colour by the mother of the groom. She might make an innocent remark to that effect and not just spoil the ambiance of the event but also begin a vital relationship with the wrong foot forward.