Effects of Red Color on Mental States

A mental state is a state of mind, like love, hate, pleasure, pain, belief, hope, fear, etc. The psychology of color is based on the mental and emotional effects colors have on people in all facets of life and it relates to two main categories: warm and cool. Warm colors, such as red, yellow and orange, can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger. Cool colors, such as green, blue and purple, often spark feelings of calmness as well as sadness. Red is a powerful color. It is stimulating and lively, but at the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive. This paper describes the association of color red with emotions and the influence of color red on memory, behavior and performance.

The association of color red with emotions

Color evokes emotion, and emotion inspires color. Red is associated with feelings of anger, mad, danger, as well as love. Below are a few experiments and results that document a novel influence of color red on emotion detection processes.

A child friendly research technique found that red color is associated with the feeling mad. This research, called Color-Your-Life, involves teaching children color-affect pairs and instructing them to fill blank papers with the colors that represent their feelings. Ethnically diverse children aged 6-13 named different emotions paired with colored crayons. Based on the results, the following color-affect pairings were selected: RED-mad, ORANGE-excited, YELLOW-happy, GREEN-lonely, BLUE-sad, BROWN-bored, BLACK-scared, and PURPLE-choice. (Ammen, Semrad, Soria, Limberg, Peterson, Moore, O’Neill, Picard, Boley, 1996). The findings showed that color red is connected with feeling angry and mad. The exciting part of this research is that scientists now have the tools to use this very simple technique to explore the emotional experiences of children.

People express love and anger more often in response to color red. A study about the influence of color on emotions was tested in the Holtzman Inkblot Technique. (Leichsenring, 2004). Samples of normals, patients with neurotic disorders, borderline patients, and both acute and chronic schizophrenics were studied with the HIT. The effect of color was tested separately for cards containing red vs. non-red colors.

According to the results, normals, patients with neurotic disorders, and borderline patients expressed love and anger significantly more often in response to cards containing red colors. For the non-red color cards neither an effect on love and anger, nor on anxiety and depression could be demonstrated. Furthermore, the chromatic cards of the HIT elicited significantly more different words given in response to a card than the achromatic cards.

Theoretical models of color and psychological functioning posit that color is not just an aesthetic stimulus, but also conveys meaningful information. The color red has received the most attention, because it is used in daily life to convey danger and potential threat in a variety of different contexts like alarms, high voltage signs, stop traffic lights, fire safety. Because red has been shown to carry the meaning of threat, exposure to red enhances the perception and identification of anger. Experiments found that exposure to red enhances the processing of facial expressions of anger. (Young, Elliot, Feltman, Ambady, 2013). In these experiments, the identification of anger relative to happiness, was facilitated when faces were viewed on a red background.

Red can also be used to express erotic feelings (think of red lips, red nails, red high heels, etc.). Studies have shown that men reported higher sexual attraction toward a woman dressed in red compared to women dressed in other colors. In the same context, for women, the color red enhances a man’s attractiveness. The results showed that women ranked the man as more attractive when he was presented against the red backdrop.

Color red and memory

Numerous studies have shown that memory is enhanced by emotionally negative and positive information relative to neutral information. From a different view, the emotion-induced memory enhancement is influenced by color. Research on the effect of emotion on memory found that the color red increased memory for negative words. (Kuhbandner, Pekrun, 2013). The study was focused on color red and color green. Because in everyday life red is often used as a warning signal, whereas green signals security, the researchers hypothesized that red might enhance memory for negative information and green memory for positive information. They measured memory for words standing out from the context by color, and manipulated the color and emotional significance of the outstanding words. Furthermore, memory for colored words was further increased by emotional significance, replicating the memory-enhancing effect of emotion.

The findings showed that red strongly increased memory for negative words, whereas green strongly increased memory for positive words. These findings provide the first evidence that emotion-induced memory enhancement is influenced by color and demonstrate that different colors can have different functions in human memory.

Color red and behavior and performance

Color influence performance and psychological functioning via learned associations. A research focused on the relation between color red and performance attainment showed that red impairs performance in such contexts and that it does so in nonconscious fashion. (Elliot, Maier, Moller, Friedman, Meinhardt, 2007). Red impairs performance on achievement tasks, because red is associated with the danger of failure in achievement contexts and evokes avoidance motivation.

Experiments demonstrated that the brief perception of red prior to an important test (e.g., an IQ test) impairs performance, and this effect takes place outside of participants’ conscious awareness. These findings suggest that care must be taken in how red is used in achievement contexts and illustrate how color can act as a subtle environmental cue that has important influences on behavior.

From a different point of view, red means power. A good example is the influence of red in sports performance. During the 2004 Summer Olympics the competitors in boxing, taekwondo, freestyle wrestling, and Greco-Roman wrestling were randomly given blue or red uniforms. A later study found that those wearing red won 55% of all the bouts which was a statistically significant increase over the expected 50%. Red is strong, basic and attention grabbing. A good example is that of a man wearing red; he is rated as high in social status, and with higher potential for success.

Color red triggers a reaction to food. Scientists investigated the implicit meaning of red in the context of healthy and unhealthy food items. The findings showed that color red triggers automatic avoidance reaction to unhealthy food. (Rohr, Kamm, Koenigstorfer, Groeppel-Klein, Wentura, 2015). Evidence suggested that the color red acts like an implicit avoidance cue in food contexts. Thus color red seems to guide the implicit evaluation of food items. In this research project participants had to categorize food items by approach-avoidance reactions, according to their healthfulness. Items were surrounded by task-irrelevant red or green circles. The result was that the color red (compared to green) facilitated automatic avoidance reactions to unhealthy foods. Therefore, color (red vs. green) in an approach-avoidance task with healthy and unhealthy food items.

In retail business, color is the single most influential factor that decides whether or not a product will be sold. Most of the researches made confirm the fact that 94% decision of purchasing something depends upon the color. Sometimes you feel re-energized by some cool vibrant colors. So either it’s a product or a mobile application, the color theme design is crucial.

Red in product design and advertisement is used to make the product seductive and help to sell. In interior decorating, touches of red can add a cheer and energy that only red can achieve.

There is also a relationship between color preference, personality and jobs. There has been some fascinating research in this area which suggests links between color preference, your personality and your career. Red is the color of passion and love. Red means leadership and it is used by goal-oriented, determined, demanding and results driven individuals.

In conclusion, color controls the human emotions, it can make you happy or it can make you sad; it can excite you or it can make you upset. Red is the simplest color, stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.

 

References
Ammen, S., Semrad, J., Soria, S P., Limberg, E., Peterson, C., Moore, M., O’Neill, K., Picard, S., Boley, S. (1996). The development of tools to research the Color-Your-Life technique. International Journal of Play Therapy, Vol 5(2), 21-39.

Elliot, A J., Maier, M A., Moller, A C., Friedman, R, Meinhardt, J. (2007). When Green Is Positive and Red Is Negative: Aging and the Influence of Color on Emotional Memories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 136(1), 154-168.

Kuhbandner, C., Pekrun, R. (2013). Joint effects of emotion and color on memory. Emotion, Vol 13(3), 375-379.

Leichsenring, F. (2004). The Influence of Color on Emotions In the Holtzman Inkblot Technique. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, Vol 20(2), 116-123.

Rohr, M., Kamm, F., Koenigstorfer, J., Groeppel-Klein, A., Wentura, D. (2015). The color red supports avoidance reactions to unhealthy food. Experimental Psychology, Vol 62(5), 335-345.

Valdez, P; Mehrabian, A. (1994). Effects of colors on emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 123(4), 394-409.

Young, S G.; Elliot, A J.; Feltman, R; Ambady, N. (2013). Red enhances the processing of facial expressions of anger. Emotion, Vol 13(3), 380-384

Young Generation and Stress

Why Young Generation Experience More Stress Than Their Parents When They Were Same Age

~ written by my daughter, who is a Millennial ~

We, the young generation, are actually more stressed than our parents when they were our age. Life is harder today than thirty years ago, and it is not just we are saying that, our parents agree. When our parents were our age, they had better job security, better housing market, no high interest loans and credit cards. Today, in this tough economic climate, we have less job security and sky high house prices. These factors generate stress. A recent survey revealed that 41 percent twenty-year old people experience regular or constant stress.

Despite the fact that we have access to personal technology, comparatively bigger salaries and better working conditions, we do face a more significant range of threats to happiness and contentment. For example, when my parents were my age, it was all about babies and having fun. For me, it is all about planning for the future, fretting over my finances, investing time and effort in eating healthy and not at all about marriage.

In general, people my age (millennials) want to make a lot of money quickly than the older generation did when they were that age. Young men and women are more materialistic than were their parents’ generation. Having money has become a life goal because we all thrive for a high standard of living. We certainly go thorough lots of challenges and pressures as we’re constantly rushing around. We have to put more effort in keeping fit and healthy and also having fun.

For us who are working and also attend school, life is even harder, as the work load is a lot heavier and there is a lot of pressure to do well in school. The number one challenge is to balance all these responsibilities. It’s hard to manage it all.

Overall, we don’t get enough sleep and many of us don’t exercise enough, both of which can make stress worse.

Today we have access to numerous digital technologies that require focus. For example, it can be really stressful managing time spent on social media. Our parents didn’t have to deal with this stress; they didn’t grow up in the digital age.

And lastly, because of the busy lifestyle, we don’t find time to spend with family and friends, like our parents did when they were our age and had lots of fun. An annual survey of college freshmen taken by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that incoming students at four-year colleges and universities last fall devoted half as many hours to hanging out with friends during their final year of high school as students who entered college in 1987.

About Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

How the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment violated the American Psychological Association’s ethical principle for research with human participants

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was an infamous case conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama by the U.S. Public Health Service. The study was the natural movement of untreated syphilis in poor, country Black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.

Syphilis is a venereal disease that, if untreated, undergoes a stage during which lesions may develop in any organ or tissue throughout the body. In 1932, a group of researchers undertook a long-term evaluation of the effects of untreated syphilis. At that time penicillin was unknown, but less effective treatment compounds were available. The interest in the study was in the natural progression of the disease if left untreated. Earlier observations suggested that some individuals left untreated apparently recovered from the disease spontaneously. Therefore, some physicians felt it might be better not to use drugs known to be hazardous. This was apparently the justification for the study. However, with the advent of penicillin in the early 1940s, an effective cure for syphilis had been found. This cure was withheld from the participants in order to complete the research findings. The public became aware of the study in a story printed by the New York Times on July 26, 1972. People were outraged. Four months later, the study was terminated.

According to The American Psychological Association (APA), the study violated many ethical principles in several ways.

The freedom from coercion principle states that every human being has rights to make choices about their lives and not to be forced in certain activities. In the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment the participants were not sufficiently informed about the study so that they can make a knowledgeable decision whether to participate or not. Researchers had not informed the men of the actual name of the study, “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” its purpose, and potential consequences of the treatment or non-treatment that they would receive during the study.

During Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, none of the subjects was told he had Syphilis or that he would not be treated for the disease. The patients were told they were being treated for “bad blood”. They were not informed that a cure for syphilis had become available, and that studying the natural history of untreated syphilis was no longer needed. Treatment was basically withheld from participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, even though the Public Health Service began treating syphilis with penicillin in 1943. Study subjects who moved from Macon County were tracked by the Public Health Service to ensure that no treatment was administered at other local health departments. This ethical principle of information, which is a key ethical requirement in biometrical research involving human beings, was totally violated, as the participants were not given the choice to quit the research as it was no longer necessary.

The ethical principle of limited deception was also violated. The participants were not told the purpose of the study; they were totally misled about the reasons for the research. The men never knew of the debilitating and life threatening consequences of the treatments they were to receive, the impact on their wives, girlfriends, and children they may have conceived once involved in the research. As the study continued for a long time, there were numerous victims: men who died of syphilis, wives who contracted the disease, and children born with congenital syphilis.

There was no diversity of the participants. A total of 600 men were enrolled in the study. Of this group, 399 who had Syphilis, were a part of the experimental group and 201 were control subjects. Most of the men were poor and illiterate sharecroppers from the county.

In conclusion, while the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment stated that the men participated in the study freely, agreeing to the examinations and treatments, there was evidence that scientific research protocol applied to human subjects was deeply violated and the safety and well-being of the men involved was totally ignored.

 

REFERENCES

Shamin M. Baker, Otis W. Brawley, and Leonard S. Marks. Effects of untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, 1932 to 1972: A closure comes to the Tuskegee Study, 2004.

Shafer, J. K., Usilton, L. J., & Gleeson, G. A. (1954, July). Untreated syphilis in the male Negro: A prospective study of the effect on life expectancy. Public Health Reports, p 684–690.

Labels and Labeling for Psychological Disorders

Pros and Cons on labels for Psychological Disorders

Labeling is the standard approach in psychiatry and the foundation for psychiatric treatment, and although widespread, is not universally accepted in all professional communities.

Labels aren’t exactly unique to the practice of psychology. Humanity had been labeling items and individuals for decades as a means of simplifying life and communication. Labels make understanding a little easier, even when they’re unwanted labels on a particular group of people.

One of the biggest advantages of using diagnostic labels in the practice of psychology is the label’s ability to convey a large amount of information within it. For example, hearing the term “bipolar disorder” gives anyone familiar with bipolar disorder a good picture of what is going on with the patient, helping both psychologist and patient. Another advantage of using diagnostic labels is in the field of research. Researching into the background of a particular
mental disorder would be nearly impossible to do without a standard by which to choose participants for the study. Without diagnostic labels, it is hard to understand what exactly a psychologist would be looking for when assigning subjects for the study.

However, despite the strong advantages to using diagnostic labels, there are also disadvantages to it. A study by the American Sociological Association on the theory of labeling in mental illness found that “the likelihood of social rejection increases once others gain knowledge of an individual’s status as a mental patient.” Labels can be damaging and hurt the one being labeled, affecting their view of themselves. Mental illness labels stick. Even after a person may have recovered from a serious mental illness, the label may have a long-lasting impact on others’ perceptions of him or her. For example, when someone with mental illness is labeled as “bipolar,” there is that perception that being “bipolar” sums up his or her whole existence. We do not take into consideration the person’s actions (good or bad) because in our minds, our perception on the label he or she has been given is our basis. Even worse, the individual who is labeled often internalizes the tag to the point that they feel that their entire entity is summarized with it.

Labels lead to stigma, a term that refers to shame, and stigmas lead to discrimination. It is common knowledge that it is socially unacceptable to discriminate against people solely based on their race, religion, culture, or appearance. People who have been diagnosed with a mental illness are discriminated. According to a mental health stigma study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, one of the main reasons that mental illness stigmas exists is that people look at mental illness as something that never goes away, but full recovery from mental illness is possible.

Some psychiatrists ignore the fact that labels are considered permanent, especially when it comes to severe mental illnesses. A typical response from a psychiatrist who follows the medical model may be that the patient will always be on medication, and under this model, the psychiatrist is not looking for a way to cure the disorder, so the client can live a healthier and more productive life, rather he or she prescribes powerful and debilitating medications in order to manage and control the client’s illness.

Labeling can have profound effects on people’s determination to overcome mental health disorders. If patients believe that they can successfully overcome a disorder, they are more likely to work very hard to accomplish this goal. We cannot let ourselves be discouraged by labels. We need to fight our way out of a doctor-imposed regimen to help defeat the stigma associated with mental illnesses.

Disorders of the Endocrine System

Disorders of the endocrine system and psychological symptoms

The endocrine system is a network of glands that secrete substances called hormones into the bloodstream. The hormones regulate the body’s metabolism. If the body has too much or too little of a certain hormone, the feedback system signals the proper gland or glands to correct the problem. A hormone imbalance may occur if this feedback system can’t maintain the right level of hormones in the bloodstream, and may lead to endocrine disorders. There are many different types of endocrine disorders.

  • Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder diagnosed in the United States.
  • Adrenal insufficiency. The adrenal gland releases too little of the hormone cortisol and sometimes, aldosterone. Addison’s disease is a type of adrenal insufficiency.
  • Cushing’s disease. Overproduction of a pituitary gland hormone leads to an overactive adrenal gland.
  • Gigantism and other growth hormone problems. If the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone, a child’s bones and body parts may grow abnormally fast. If growth hormone levels are too low, a child can stop growing in height.
  • Hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. The most common cause for an overactive thyroid is an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s disease.
  • Hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
  • Hypopituitarism. The pituitary gland releases little or no hormones.
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia I and II (MEN I and MEN II). These rare, genetic conditions are passed down through families. They cause tumors of the parathyroid, adrenal, and thyroid glands, leading to overproduction of hormones.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Overproduction of androgens interfere with the development of eggs and their release from the female ovaries.
  • Precocious puberty. Abnormally early puberty that occurs when glands tell the body to release sex hormones too soon in life.

Testing for endocrine disorders is performed by an endocrinologist. The symptoms of an endocrine disorder vary widely and depend on the specific gland involved. However, most people with endocrine disease complain of psychological symptoms like depression, fatigue and weakness. There are many other areas of interaction between physical disorders and psychotic disorders. Below are some examples:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) symptoms can include delirium or coma, palpitations, anxiety, tremor.
  • Hypotyroidism is accompanied by psychiatric symptoms of depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment.
  • Hyperthyroidism produces symptoms as anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, decresed concentration, decreased memory, major depression.
  • Adrenal disorders Cushing syndrom mimic depression.
  • Diabetis is accompanied by fatigue, memory impairment, depression.
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) causes a general slowing of all body functions. Patient complains of depresion and fatigue.
  • Hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis: usually associated with anxiety but may present as depression, especially in the elderly who may have few classical signs of thyroid disease.
  • Adrenal hypofunction (Addison’s Disease): often presents with weakness and fatigue.
  • Adrenal hyperfunction (Cushing’s Disease): either depression or mania.
  • Hyperparathyroidism: lassitude, anorexia, weakness, and depressed mood.

The close relationship between psychiatry and endocrinology was recognized many years ago by many great psychiatrists including Sigmund Freud. In general, endocrine disorders may lead to depressive syndromes. Depression in the context of endocrine disease may be more difficult to treat or may respond only when the endocrine disorder is addressed. Also, the course of endocrine disease may be adversely affected by depression. Doctors often do not take enough time with patients to get to the root cause of their issues. There is a very real possibility that what seems to be a psychiatric problem is caused by some physical illness. In order to decide if a
physical disorder exists, the psychiatrist and doctor must have comprehensive information. For example, a patient complaining of depression with decreased energy level, is also complaining of increased weight, cold intolerance, and extremely dry skin. Therefore, the patient must have physical exams before making psychological diagnosis, as thyroid problems or any other medical problems might be potentiating his depression. Thus the importance of physical exams before making any diagnosis is crucial.

 

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