In the Brain Games episode “In Living Colour,” we learned how the colours that we perceive actually exist in our brains, which take the wavelengths of reflected and direct light that our eyes observe and combine it with information from our past observations of the world. But researchers also have discovered that just as our brains influence colour, seeing certain colours can influence our brains in various ways. Here are some ways that you can use colour to your benefit.
• If you want to be trusted, be brown-eyed. A study published in 2013 by researchers at Charles University in the Czech Republic fond that research subjects who were shown photos of people rated brown-eyed people as more trustworthy than blue-eyed people, regardless of gender. However, individuals with broad features were considered trustworthy regardless of eye colour.
• If you want to be more attractive to the opposite sex, wear red. A study by University of Rochester researchers, published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, found that women viewed men who wore red clothing as more attractive than those who wore blue. Additionally, women viewed red-clad men as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. A study published in 2008 by one of the same researchers found that men feel more sexual attraction to women dressed in red as well.
• Choose the background colour for your computer screen, based upon the task you’re performing. A study published in 2009 by University of British Columbia researchers found that when subjects used a red background, they did better at tasks such as proofreading or solving anagrams, which requires attention to details. But a blue background seemed to produce better performance at creative tasks and intelligence tests, which require imaginative thinking instead of accuracy.
• If you want to stick to your diet, choose your plate colour carefully. An article published in the Winter 2011 issue of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab newsletter researchers presented findings that buffet diners who served themselves on a plate with a low contrast to the food colour—pasta with red sauce on a red plate, for example—ate 22 percent more than those who served themselves food on plates that whose colour contrasted with the food.