colour psychology… the meaning of purple

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Colour Psychology - the meaning of purple.

Historically, purple or violet was only available to royalty and the very wealthy because it was so expensive to make. Psychologically  purple communicates spiritual reflection and connection.

Purple or violet is a combination of the power, energy and strength of red with the integrity and truth of blue.

colour symbolism
To make the colour purple it took 12,000 murex marine snails to make just one gram of dye! Given it was so expensive to create purple was associated with royalty as they were the only ones who could afford it. Legend has it the King of Phoenix declared purple to be the royal colour and by being the only ones allowed to wear it, purple became a symbol of royalty. It also made them easily identifiable.

It has since been associated with wealth, luxury and those of high office such as in the church or the very wealthy. In the early 1900’s purple was produced synthetically making it available to everyone and in many varying tones.

Colour Psychology - Colour symbolism of purple.

Vestments high mass | murex marine snails | Queen Mary's crown

positive psychological qualities of purple
Purple relates to the higher self, truth and inner contemplation. We associate it with spiritual awareness and inner reflection. A colour for quiet contemplation.

negative psychological qualities of purple
Too much purple or surrounding yourself with the wrong tone in combination with other colours and you could find yourself becoming too introspective – spending a lot of time ‘navel gazing’. It would be easy to lose touch with reality. Using the wrong tone can communicate cheap and nasty, faster than any other colour.

Do you have a favourite purple? How does purple make you feel?

If you found this blog post interesting, you may also be interested in other blog posts relating to the psychology of colour.

Images: BBC Vestments High Mass |  Onceiwasacleverboy

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  1. Charlene Hutsebaut on April 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Very interesting Karen. I will take more note of which tone of purple I use in future. I like the qualities of the colour for sure in our fast paced working world. Nice to have a colour which can slow us down. – Charlene

    • admin on April 6, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Hi Charlene, you’re on the right track. It’s the same with any colour, pick the tone that resonates with you.

  2. Nicola Holden on April 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

    My living room is generally very neutral but with splashes of various shades of purple in cushions – some of them lending a regal air, and some of them more frivolous.

    • admin on April 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      You’re spot on, depending on the tone, purple can look regal or frivolous.

  3. Lahcen on December 17, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Hi Karen,

    Your article is such an inspiration and its only now that i understoor why one of my best friend looved wearing the purple color and now i get to better understand her behavior.

    I like red color which is very charming and mysterious. It conjures associations with a lot of other stuff which only psychology brought into light recently 🙂 You can check it out here

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