February 05, 2009
Red For Detail But Blue For Creativity

News you can use: Color your environment based on the type of mental work you are trying to do.

A new University of British Columbia study reconciles a debate that has long raged among marketers and psychologists: What colour most improves brain performance and receptivity to advertising, red or blue?

It turns out they both can, it just depends on the nature of the task or message. The study, which could have major implications for advertising and interior design, finds that red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively.

"Previous research linked blue and red to enhanced cognitive performance, but disagreed on which provides the greatest boost," says Juliet Zhu of UBC's Sauder School of Business, author of the study which will appear in the Feb. 5 issue of Science Express. "It really depends on the nature of the task."

Between 2007 and 2008, the researchers tracked more than 600 participants' performance on six cognitive tasks that required either detail-orientation or creativity. Most experiments were conducted on computers, with a screen that was red, blue or white.

Red boosted performance on detail-oriented tasks such as memory retrieval and proofreading by as much as 31 per cent compared to blue. Conversely, for creative tasks such as brainstorming, blue environmental cues prompted participants to produce twice as many creative outputs as when under the red colour condition.

Okay, but what is mellow yellow good for? Also, what sort of work will you do best in a purple haze?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 February 05 11:06 PM  Brain Performance

David Govett said at February 6, 2009 1:10 PM:

What if you need attention to detail AND creativity? Purple?

Randall Parker said at February 6, 2009 7:05 PM:


Important question.

Maybe you work in different color rooms at different times of the day depending on whether you are brainstorming or implementing?

Wolf-Dog said at February 6, 2009 9:41 PM:

How about red lights in the submarine control rooms during combat? In submarine war movies, they switch to red lights when a combat situation is developing, but I assumed in the past that the reason was to make sure that the periscope cannot be seen by the enemy...

But do you think that one of the reasons for the red light during combat, was to help the submarine officers concentrate?

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