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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Colour My World

Hue knows what could currently be manipulating you right now. Perhaps you have ‘friends’ that made you think that tights totally count as pants. Perhaps you’ve enrolled in postgrad after another 6/15 in the Stuff quiz made you feel intellectually inadequate. Perhaps the prospect of the rare Briscoes sale motivated you to buy a new toaster. But there is one source of manipulation that is all around you, according to science. Orange you glad to soon learn about how colour influences your life?

If, like Split Enz, you see red, you’re bound to get a boost in cognitive performance. Researchers at the University of British Columbia tracked the performance of more than 600 participants in six cognitive tasks that required either detail-orientation or creativity on differently coloured screens. Red boosted performance on detail-orientated tasks such as memory retrieval and proofreading by as much as 31 per cent compared to blue. Conversely, blue environmental cues prompted participants to produce twice as many creative outputs. The author of the study, Dr Juliet Zhu, explained these variances by saying colour influences cognition and behaviour through learned associations. Basically, a life of seeing red on stop signs and scrawled all over our very best efforts at academic work has made us associate red with danger and caution, making us more vigilant and thus helping us to perform tasks where careful attention is needed. Through the benign associations with the sky, the ocean and water, we feel safe around blue and accordingly about being creative and exploratory.

For those fortunate souls lucky enough to have job interviews or parents of partners to meet—go with blue. According to Leslie Harrington, from the Color Association of the United States, blue is associated with trustworthiness, strength and dependability. It’s also cyantifically proven that blues and greens are relaxing colours that help lower blood pressure.

For those of you who think you crave certain fast-food joints because of their colour, don’t worry: it’s not a pigment of your imagination. Warm colours like red and yellow stimulate the appetite. The same stimulating quality of yellow that revs up the appetite also causes diners to feel rushed, ensuring that tables are turned faster to make room for more hungry customers.

Finally, if your success at picking up boys, girls or whatever tickles your fancy at Hope Bros hasn’t been the greatest, try red. Researchers from the University of Rochester have found that men are more likely to find a woman attractive, are more likely to ask her out, and are also more prepared to spend more money on a date, if she is wearing red. They also found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money, and more likely to climb the social ladder.

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