We’ve been asked what our favorite color is our entire lives—from the first day of kindergarten to corporate icebreakers. The question is inherently surface-level, but the answer can signal something deeper than expected. Colors have physiological, psychological, and subliminal effects on our lives and are a major influence on our decision-making process. However, this isn’t what we consider when answering this familiar question. Perhaps if we did, our gut-responses might change.
Let’s test it out with a quick, guided activity.
To begin, grab a pen and paper and walk into your favorite room in your home. Look around your space, take note of your surroundings, and write down all of the colors you see (think: ROYGBIV). Note the hues of what’s kept in drawers, on shelves, in closets, and on tabletops. What does your upholstered furniture look like? Next to each color, mark those that you have intentionally incorporated into your space with a star, and those that you’ve unintentionally added with a heart. When you’re done, tally up which symbol appears most.
Based on your list, now take note the color that is predominantly represented in your space. Circle it and let’s call it your ‘current hue.’ What comes to mind when looking at your current hue? It could be a core memory, a person in your life who embodies this hue, cultural references that pop into your head, or an emotion it provokes. Jot these down, assigning each a positive or negative association by marking them with a plus or minus sign, respectively.
Is there a color you wish was the predominant color in your space? Write it down and draw a box around it (this may be the same as your current hue). Let’s call it your ‘aspirational hue’. Repeat the association activity above using your aspirational hue (if different from your current hue).
Looking at your activity workspace, what stands out to you? Are you surprised by your results? How might you be able to change what’s on the page in front of you? Use the reference chart below to help decipher your results.
Having done this activity, are you seeing colors differently? How will you leverage the power of color in your day-to-day life, both in your space and out in the world?
Joann Eckstut & Arielle Eckstut’s book The Secret Language of Color for historic deep dives and cultural contexts of how color colors our world.
Kendra Cherry’s article Color Psychology: Does It Affect How You Feel? to better understand how color influences your day-to-day life.
(Image: Red Bubble)
The Color Factory in NYC, Houston, or Chicago for an interactive color experience.