Science of Color Preferences

The color palette of a home can have a big impact on the new home prospective buyer.

And you know what? Scientific evidence reveals how the brain processes color and how color impacts feelings and responses.

While you’re likely not in a position to influence what colors are used in your model homes, it’s important to realize how you can maximize emotional impact when you’re showing a model, and how to use personal color preferences to help people make decisions.

Here’s a bit of a history lesson: The Theory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was first published in 1810. Goethe created one of the first color wheels and shared psychological impact. His theories are still widely adopted:

  • Red conveys gravity and dignity.

  • Yellow connotes brightness and soft excitement, yet noble.

  • Blue is at odds with itself, being both exciting and retreating.

  • Green is reassuring.

So how do these 200-year-old conclusions stack up against recent research that expands into more colors? A study of logos by the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests additional consideration:

  • Blue logos invoke feelings of confidence, success and reliability.

  • Green logos invoke perceptions of environmental friendliness, toughness, durability, masculinity and sustainability.

  • Purple logos invoke femininity, glamour and charm.

  • Pink logos give the perception of youth, imagination and fashion.

  • Yellow logos invoke perceptions of fun and modernity.

  • Red logos brought feelings of expertise and self-assurance.

Other research from the University of British Columbia and Dartmouth College make these observations:

  • People have emotional responses to color. Those responses are linked to the brain’s neural processes.

  • The brain is most triggered by red, then green, then blue.

  • Red can make people’s work more accurate. Blue can make people more creative.

  • People tested with red, blue or neutral backgrounds on computer screens found red to be more effective for recall and attention to detail. Blue was better for creating imagination.

  • If you seek “avoidance” action (for example, toothpaste for cavity prevention), studies show red to have greater appeal. Conversely, if you seek “positive” action (for example, “tooth whitening"), then blue holds more appeal.

  • Across cultures, red represents “no.” It’s a common emotional association that is innate. A study involving monkeys (a species that doesn’t process the meaning of a red stop sign) found that the animals avoided humans who wore red.

  • Red is also credited with helping people focus.

  • Red is a color of stimulation.

  • Blue is more relaxing and calming.

Bottom line: Knowing this about colors, you can use scientific evidence to better understand why people ooh and aww more at certain colors. Make note of those, and after you’ve left the model home, remind them of those colors as you persuade them to buy a new home from you.