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What color makes people feel the safest?

Color psychology plays an important role in helping us feel more at ease in our environments. When we think about safety, our minds naturally gravitate towards colors that are soothing and encourage feelings of security. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind what color makes people feel the safest and why.

The Psychology Behind Feeling Safe

Feeling safe and secure is a basic human need. We all strive to fulfill this need through our choice of living environment, relationships, routines and more. When we don’t feel safe, it can significantly impact our mental and even physical health.

From an evolutionary perspective, safety has been essential to human survival. Being able to quickly detect danger in our environment was critical for early humans to survive threats from predators, natural elements and more. This survival instinct still lives within us today.

Even though most of us are not living in life-or-death situations on a daily basis, we still experience the physiological effects of fear when we don’t feel safe. Prolonged feelings of being unsafe can result in increased stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This can weaken the immune system and cause a multitude of health issues.

Luckily, we can counteract these effects by purposefully surrounding ourselves with things that make us feel protected and secure. This is where color psychology comes into play.

How Color Affects Mood and Perceptions of Safety

During our evolutionary development, certain colors became associated with thoughts and feelings of safety due to learned associations. For example:

  • Blue – Reminds us of clear skies and clean water sources, both signals of security
  • Green – Connects us to lush vegetation, another sign of an environment that can sustain us
  • White – Mimics bright, sunlit spaces where we can easily spot any threats

Research has shown that humans are inclined to view warmer colors like red, orange and yellow as more threatening than cool, natural tones like blue and green. Warm colors stimulate the nervous system and can increase heart rate and anxiety levels.

Alternatively, cool colors like shades of green and blue have a calming effect. They evoke thoughts of soothing elements found in nature like grass, lakes, the sky and more. They help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing heart rate and lowering stress.

The Safest Color: Blue

While green and other cool, natural colors also evoke safety, studies consistently show that people feel calmest and most secure when surrounded by various shades of blue.

Blue light has even been shown to reduce suicidal thoughts and calm schizophrenic episodes. It seems to have universal soothing effects across cultures and age groups, though some research indicates it may be the most preferred color in Western cultures.

So why does blue have such a strong effect on feelings of safety and security compared to other hues?

Blue Lowers Stress

As previously mentioned, exposure to the color blue causes the body to produce chemicals that lower stress. In a study published in Advanced Engineering Forum, participants were exposed to various wavelengths of light. The shortest wavelength, which corresponded to blue light, resulted in significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Blue Decreases Heart Rate

Red light activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing an uptick in pulse and breathing rates. Blue has the opposite effect. A 2010 study found that exposure to blue light consistently lowered participants’ heart rate, promoting an overall feeling of relaxation and security.

Blue Improves Sleep

Poor or inadequate sleep often leaves us feeling unsafe and on edge. Blue light improves sleep issues like insomnia, setting the stage for feelings of security and stability the following day. Researchers have found wearing blue-tinted glasses for 3 hours before bedtime helps people fall asleep faster.

Blue Boosts Serotonin

Exposure to blue light also boosts production of serotonin, one of our main “feel good” neurotransmitters. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, anxiety and emotional instability. Higher serotonin leads to elevated mood, self-confidence and feelings of safety.

Blue Deters Crime

Research in the International Journal of Public Health found that urban areas using blue street lighting saw less crime compared to those with conventional yellow lighting. Interviews with prisoners indicated blue light gave them a heightened sense they could be identified, deterring them from committing crimes.

Blue Conveys Trust

Studies of consumer behavior reveal that blue is strongly associated with feelings of trust and dependability. Participants consistently rate products and services colored blue as more honest, secure and safe compared to other colors.

For all these reasons, blue is the top choice for creating an immediate sense of safety and security in any environment.

Using Blue to Enhance Feelings of Safety

If you want to make a space where people instantly feel protected and calm, incorporate blue elements wherever possible. Here are some tips:

  • Paint walls blue – Lighter shades like sky blue work well for whole rooms. Try accent walls in bolder blues.
  • Select blue furnishings – Choose blue for big items like sofas or chairs and accessories like pillows, throws and rugs.
  • Use blue lighting – Swap out harsh overhead lights for soft blue bulbs.
  • Bring in blue textiles – Hang blue curtains or place tablecloths and other linens around the room.
  • Display blue art and objects – Include blue in paintings, photographs, vases, flowers and other decorative items.
  • Wear blue clothes – Don a blue outfit to instantly project a vibe of trustworthiness and security.
  • Serve blue food and drinks – Infuse blue using foods like blueberries or juices and cocktails with blue curaçao.

Focus especially on lighter shades like powder blue, sky blue and turquoise which research shows are more relaxing than dark blues. Avoid pairing it with yellow which can come across as unstable and increase anxiety.

For the bedroom, specifically use blue décor and lighting to promote restful sleep. You spend nearly a third of your life sleeping, so it’s especially important your bedroom provides a feeling of sanctuary.

Other Top Safety Colors

While blue is the overall safest color, other hues can promote security in different contexts.


Green is another color strongly tied to nature. It represents growth, renewal and abundance. Green can enhance feelings of safety in a few key areas:

  • Healthcare – Due to its association with life, many hospitals and clinics use green to create a calming environment.
  • Finance – Green indicates stability in the financial world. It’s featured heavily in accounting, banking and other monetary contexts.
  • Environmentalism – Dark greens like forest and olive reflect a dedication to protecting the earth.


Crisp white evokes feelings of purity, cleanliness and openness. It’s a smart choice for safety in these settings:

  • Healthcare – White lab coats and sterile white environments convey safety in medicine.
  • Technology – White space gives an illusion of simplicity in complex digital products.
  • Food/Beverage – White signals cleanliness in kitchens, restaurants and food packaging.

The main downside of white is that it can feel cold or stark if overused. Temper it with warmer accent colors and textures.


In ancient times, purple dye was extremely rare and expensive, worn only by kings and nobles. Today, purple still denotes luxury and exclusivity. Use regal purples when marketing elite services:

  • Wealth management
  • Luxury travel
  • Haute couture fashion
  • Exclusive membership clubs

Light lilacs and lavenders also promote nostalgia and romantic feelings.


While controversial, gray is increasingly used in place of stark black and white to portray responsible business practices:

  • Sustainability initiatives
  • Corporate social responsibility plans
  • Ethical manufacturing and sourcing policies

Gray conveys a message of inclusivity and integrity without feeling cold.

Colors to Avoid for Safety

On the flip side, there are a few colors you’ll want to steer clear of when the goal is to help people feel secure.


Vibrant red is frequently used as a warning signal, so it induces anxiety instead of allaying fears. While red works for grabbing attention, use it sparingly or avoid altogether when safety and security are the priority.


Yellow is strongly associated with caution, instability and unpredictability. It’s also very fatiguing on the eyes when overused. Yellow is a color of playfulness, so it’s better suited to joyful, relaxed settings.


Sophisticated black implies mystery and authority. But it can also come across as ominous or overwhelming without thoughtful implementation. Use black for accents rather than primary colors.


After analyzing the effects of different colors, blue clearly comes out on top for enhancing feelings of safety and security. Light to mid-range blues like sky blue, periwinkle and azure blue are you best bets for creating a soothing yet uplifting environment.

While blue is the universal favorite, don’t overlook the power of green, white, purple and gray in the right contexts. Conversely, limit use of bold red, yellow and black which tend to undermine a sense of comfort and stability.

Purposefully incorporating our favorite safety-enhancing colors allows us to actively shape the environment around us. Surrounding ourselves with calming colors provides a sense control amidst the chaos of the world. It’s a simple yet impactful way we can create spaces that help satisfy our basic need to feel safe and protected.