Skip to main content

Coloring the environment: Hue, arousal, and boredom


One hundred and forty undergraduate subjects, sitting in carrels having side panels painted either light blue, blue, pink, red, orange, white, brown, green, yellow, or gray were exposed to procedures designed to induce boredom. Subjects listened to a tape that repeated one of two words every 2 sec for 10 min. The results showed that self-reported arousal and evaluations of the environment were higher in the yellow condition than in the other color conditions. Response to boredom-induction procedures did not vary with color or saturation.


  1. Birren, F. Color psychology and color therapy. New York: University Books, 1961.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Calef, R. S., Calef, R. A., Piper, D., Wilson, S. A., & Geller, E. S. Imagined verbal transformations as a function of age and verbal intelligence. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1977, 10, 109–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Gerard, R. M. Differential effects of color lights on psychophysiological functions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles, 1958.

  4. Goldstein, K. Some experimental observations concerning the influence of colors on the functions of the organism. Occupational Therapy, 1942, 21, 147–151.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Goodfellow, R. A. H., & Smith, P. C. Effects of environmental color on two psychomotor tasks. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1973, 37, 296–298.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Greene, T. C., & Bell, P. A. Additional considerations concerning the effects of ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ wall colors on energy conservation. Ergonomics, 1980, 32, 949–954.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Griffitt, W. Environmental effects on interpersonal affective behavior: Ambient effective temperature and attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1970, 15, 240–244.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Ketcham, H. Color planning for business and industry. New York: Harper, 1958.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Mehrabian, A., & Russell, J. A. The basic emotional impact of environments. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1974, 38, 283–301.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Nakshian, J. S. The effects of red and green surroundings on behavior. Journal of General Psychology, 1964, 70, 143–161.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Norman, R. D., & Scott, W. A. Color and affect: A review and semantic evaluation. Journal of General Psychology, 1952, 46, 185–223

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Nourse, J. C., & Welch, R. B. Emotional attributes of color: A comparison of violet and green. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1971, 32, 403–406.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Russell, J. A., & Pratt, G. A description of the affective quality attributed to environments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1980, 38, 311–322.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Smith, R. S. An investigation of the relationship between physiological and cognitive measures of affective response to color. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1958.

  15. Wilson, G. D. Arousal properties of red vs. green. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1966, 23, 947–949.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas C. Greene.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Greene, T.C., Bell, P.A. & Boyer, W.N. Coloring the environment: Hue, arousal, and boredom. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 21, 253–254 (1983).

Download citation


  • Color Condition
  • Side Panel
  • Affective Quality
  • Color Treatment
  • Popular Notion