Color is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is an energy having wavelength and frequency. Color affects the mood in adults and more so in children. Color psychology and its impact on a child’s learning abilities and behavior is a much researched subject.
Color can help connect the neuropathways in the brain. When correct color is found for a person’s problem subject, then that subject actually becomes a lot easier for the child; the student actually experiences joy of learning. Children wearing colored goggles who were made to complete pegboard tests were found to solve the tests much faster when wearing goggles of their favorite color.
A study conducted in 1993 by Boyatzis & Varghese followed by subsequent studies in 2001 and 2003 showed relationship between color preferences and student’s performance.Color has 3 basic attributes: hue, value and saturation. Color is also classified based on its temperature. Human eyes on the other hand have rods and cones that help differentiate different colors. When color passes through the retinal cells in the eyes, the receptor cells absorb the hues and send a signal to the brain where the colors are deciphered. These brain impulses also fall on the hormone regulating endocrine glands which then evoke emotional and psychological responses. (Nielson and Taylor study of 2007).
Scientific studies have now shown that students with learning disabilities and ADHD often experience distorted color discrimination. Therefore, many institutional situations require a calming environment. In the University of Alberta, the color environment of 14 severely handicapped and behaviorally challenged 8 year old kids was altered dramatically. From a white fluorescent lit classroom with orange carpets and orange, yellow and white walls and shelves, it was changed to full spectrum fluorescent lighting and brown and blue walls and shelves. The children’s aggressive behavior decreased and they also showed notable drop in blood pressure. When the environment was changed again to the way it was, the aggressive behavior and blood pressure changed to previous levels.
Color and physical reactions in children
Children also react to colors on a physical level. The explanation behind this is that the light enters the Hypothalamus which controls the nerve centers, as well as the heart rate and respiration. The wavelength and energy of each color varies and affects children differently. Even newborns react to light, a fact highlighted by infant jaundice being treated with blue light.
Color brings about a vascular reflex action by increasing perspiration, the eye blinking rate and also stimulating a noticeable muscular reaction. Blue color, as shown by above experiment, reduces the blood pressure. Reactions to orange, red and yellow are same and reaction to violet color is same as that to blue. The reactions to temperature of the color are another matter; warm colors can calm one child but they may excite others. Likewise cool colors might stimulate one and relax another.
One shade of pink can be calming, another can be stimulating. Blue violet may be a mystical and spiritual color, but to some groups of college students, Blue violet induced feelings of fatigue and sadness. These students also found a shade called “cool green” as angering and confusing.