As individuals, the way we each perceive colours might differ, but it does not change the universal emotional responses we have to them. Certain colours are known to be associated with certain distinct emotions.
Through various studies, it has been noted the colour for joy was invariably yellow. People associate yellow with fun, optimism and enthusiasm. There is a reason those happy smileys are classically done in yellow. Additionally, bright yellow is a sure shot attention grabber.
Our attraction to bright colours comes from our early ancestors, as it was beneficial in spotting brightly coloured fruits and vegetables in uniformly green surroundings. Yellow ones in particular are known to contain carotenoids and bioflavonoids that actually improve your mood. Furthermore, studies have shown that people exposed to yellow-orange light had greater brain activity related to awareness and cognition. It wakes up the circadian eye, as we non-consciously link it with the arrival of day. From our earliest days, daytime has been associated with activity and safety, since we could see everything during these hours. These could be possible reasons why the colour yellow is associated with happiness and joy.
Recently, one of the top paint manufacturing companies conducted a world-wide survey to find out ‘What is the world’s favourite colour?’. People were shown pure saturated colours and they had to hypothetically choose a colour for a wall in their house. One would expect yellow, the colour of joy to be an obvious favourite, but strangely, yellow was seen to be one of the least popular options, with only 5% people choosing it.
Why is it that the colour of joy is also the least favourite of people? This answer might lie in the way our eyes perceive colour. We use the photoreceptors called cones to perceive changes in colour. There are three types of cones cells that are sensitive to short, medium and long wavelength light. In colour terms, that is violet, green and red. Yellow falls in between green and red in the colour spectrum. In order to see it, two types of cones have to work at the same time, which is fatiguing to the eye. Apart from this, yellow also falls in the brighter part of the colour spectrum, making it very vibrant. These two factors put together, makes it rather stressful to look at yellow for long periods of time.
Nevertheless, when used in short bursts, yellow becomes a mood lifter. A living room with yellow cushions adds a burst of joy to the ambience. A sober outfit with a yellow bag can give the wearer a cheerful look. Yellow when used judiciously, can add a burst of joy to anything.
On the other hand, just as too much yellow can be fatiguing, so can too much joy and excitement. On a regular day, it’s ideal to experience multiple short periods of joy in order to go along in an efficient manner. A few pops of yellow joy splashed here and there should lift our mood without taking out too much of our emotional energy.