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Blue boosts creativity

250px-color_icon_blueIn a Science article published last month, researchers confirmed that environmental colors have a measurable impact on our performance. From the New York Times‘ coverage:

Trying to improve your performance at work or write that novel? Maybe it’s time to consider the color of your walls or your computer screen. If a new study is any guide, the color red can make people’s work more accurate, and blue can make people more creative.

In the study…researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted tests with 600 people to determine whether cognitive performance varied when people saw red or blue. Participants performed tasks with words or images displayed against red, blue or neutral backgrounds on computer screens.

Red groups did better on tests of recall and attention to detail, like remembering words or checking spelling and punctuation. Blue groups did better on tests requiring imagination, like inventing creative uses for a brick or creating toys from shapes.

The Times goes on to incorporate other related studies. One example:

Then there was the cocktail party study, in which a group of interior designers, architects and corporate color scientists built model rooms decorated as bars in red, blue or yellow. They found that more people chose the yellow and red rooms, but that partygoers in the blue room stayed longer. Red and yellow guests were more social and active. And while red guests reported feeling hungrier and thirstier than others, yellow guests ate twice as much. Experts say colors may affect cognitive performance because of the moods they engender.

The full Times report is interesting.

(I’m glad we painted the new library blue. I’ll take all the creative help I can get!)

Image credit: Wikipedia.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    aha! the background of my bulletin board (not that i can see it, but i know it’s there!) is a sky full of birds and my curtain, next to my computer is white with a blue border stripe, and on the cornerof my desk by that window is a blue glass vase! and when i look into the room behind me to watch the baby crawl away, i see robin’s egg blue walls….

    March 23, 2009
  2. So basically every artist needs two spaces… the blue room for creating and the red room for editing?

    Our entire downstairs is red, and strangely enough, that’s where I go to edit. I find I gravitate to the green rooms in the house to write, maybe because we don’t have any blue in the house.

    That’s fascinating, Miranda! Thanks for sharing!

    March 23, 2009
  3. Jen at mamasmagicstudio #

    Very interesting — found myself thinking of a good friend of mine from graduate school (we both took writing workshops together). His nickname for me: “Blue.” Mine for him: “Red.”

    March 23, 2009

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