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The Benefits of the Color Green

How color can help enhance your space and your mindset.

Key points

  • Colors sometimes have the ability to influence how people think and behave.
  • Seeing the color green has been linked to enhanced creativity.
  • Color saturation and brightness help determine people's emotional responses to colors.

It’s color-of-the-year time again.

Each year, color pundits gather to determine the colors for the year ahead—their decisions determine if we will find ourselves staring at row after row of Spring Green or Midnight Blue toasters in department stores for the next 12 months or if we will be looking at Lemon Yellow or Pumpkin ones instead.

This year, there are all sorts of reasons to feel more positive than usual about the colors of the year. Many of them are, drum roll please...greens!

The scientific research is clear about the psychological implications of looking at greens generally. Studies have shown that seeing the color green is linked to enhanced creative thinking. For example, teams led by researchers Studente and Lichtenfeld have found this effect. Greens are good choices for the walls of a painting studio, a writer’s nook, or a home office.

When you really start to think about it, there are other places in your home where creative thinking is a plus. When conversation starts to lag during a dinner party, or you need to somehow communicate to your best friend that their new haircut is not doing all the good things for them that they think it is, creativity can come in handy.

There are particular shades of green that are generally more useful in our homes than others. Ones that are not very saturated but relatively light, similar to sage greens with lots of white paint mixed into them for example, are great for putting us in the right place mentally to socialize with others and do whatever mental work we need to accomplish, whether that’s balancing our checkbook or completing the tax audit of a client firm. In the places in your home where you want to feel like you’re bursting with energy, try a saturated, not-so-bright green, such as Kelly green.

Using lighter colors also makes spaces seem a little larger than they actually are and cool colors, like greens, lead us to feel that a space is a little cooler than it actually is, which can be wonderful in a sunroom or some other place that’s apt to be slightly warmer than comfortable.

People also like greens, so if you’re going to be putting your house up for sale soon or just want people to like what you’ve done with your place, greens are a plus. Also, if you purchase a toaster in one of this year’s greens, odds are you’ll actually like its color and won’t be as motivated to replace it anytime soon, which is good for the planet.

Some of the standout greens for the year ahead are Breezeway by Behr, Olive Sprig by PPG, October Mist by Benjamin Moore, and Evergreen Fog by Sherwin-Williams, although Olive Sprig and Evergreen Fog would be a little better, from a psychological perspective, if they were a little lighter—so consider mixing a little (but consistent amount of) white into them if you decide to use them.

For 2022, there’re science-informed reasons to cheer the colors of the year!

References

Syvie Studente, Nina Seppala and Noemi Sadowska. 2016. “Facilitating Creative Thinking in the Classroom: Investigating the Effects of Plants and the Colour Green on Visual and Verbal Creativity.” Thinking Skills and Creativity, vol. 19, pp. 1-8.

Stephanie Lichtenfeld, Andrew J. Elliot, Markus A. Maier, and Reinhard Pekrun. 2012. “Fertile Green: Green Facilitates Creative Performance.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 784-797.

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