Skip to content

The Psychology of Yellow

Colors have cultural and psychological significance that designers should consider when making art. The color yellow, for example, is often associated with energy and joy. If used in a design, yellow can create a sense of happiness and hope. Different shades of yellow can also have distinct connotations. Softer, light yellows have been known to have a calming effect of infants and are therefore used as a gender-neutral color in nurseries. Darker yellows have an antique quality, and if used correctly can quickly make a design seem accomplished and righteous.

Because one’s color instincts are almost purely learned from society, associations with color differ between cultures. While most western cultures correlate yellow with joy and happiness, in China yellow is associated with pornography. In Egypt, yellow is royal. In Thailand, yellow is a lucky color— but only on Mondays.

There have been countless explorations into color theory. Why and how we react to particular colors has been the subject of design research for years because it is such an influential and significant part of designing. Next time you are choosing colors for your work, do some research and think carefully about how that color will make the audience feel.