colour psychology… the meaning of yellow

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Colour psychology - the meaning of yellow. This opens a new browser window.

How do you feel when the sun is shining? Happy, spirits uplifted? So it will probably come as no surprise to you that yellow just happens to be the colour that represents happiness!

Yellow is the colour that represents the emotions, being one of the psychological primaries.

Yellow can boost your self-esteem and self confidence, leaving you feeling full of optimism and positivity.

Like every colour, it has its negative psychological effects which are irritation, anxiety, nervousness and feelings of depression.

most visible colour in daylight
Yellow is the most visible colour in daylight. Again it’s down to using the right tone of yellow. When you are next out and about, take notice of how much yellow is used – double yellow lines, road work signs, danger signs, river buoys – anything that needs to be highly visible. And let’s not forget the famous yellow cabs of NYC – very easy to spot. There’s no problem spotting the leader in the Tour de France, given they are the one wearing the coveted yellow jersey.

Yellow is also used for sale signs and point-of-purchase displays. Often the retailer over does it and just ends up creating a whole lot of ‘colour noise’.

colour combination
The meaning of a colour can completely change when combined with another colour. For example, when yellow is combined with black it is nature’s way of communicating a warning or danger. Think about how you react when you see a wasp or a bee. We have translated this by using the yellow and black colour combination to signal danger such as nuclear waste, toxic site, keep out signs etc.

many tones of yellow
There are many tones of yellow from cream, buttermilk, magnolia, sunflower, saffron, and lemon to name a few. I’m often told by clients and in general conversation they don’t suit yellow. There will be a yellow for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding the right tone for you.

Which yellow resonates with you? How does yellow 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.


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1 Comment

  1. Nicola Holden on July 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Great blog post Karen! I’ve also heard it said that babies cry most often in a yellow room. I guess that’s down to the negative psychological effects.

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