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What color motivates you?

Colors have a powerful effect on human psychology and behavior. The colors we surround ourselves with can profoundly influence our moods, emotions, and motivations. When harnessed purposefully, color can be used to increase productivity, boost creativity, and inspire action.

How Color Affects Motivation

Research has shown that color significantly impacts motivation levels. Specific colors have been linked to increased focus, confidence, and drive. Other hues have calming or creative effects. The context also matters – colors take on different meanings whether they are used in a work, home, or nature setting.

On a biological level, color is processed in a primordial part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This region regulates hormones and automatic functions like heartbeat, hunger, and emotion. When certain wavelengths of light hit the retina, they stimulate the hypothalamus to secrete hormones that can energize or relax us.

Psychologically, humans attach meanings and associations to different hues that form over a lifetime. These attachments stem from evolution, culture, personal experiences, and individual differences in perception. Marketing and design experts carefully select colors to evoke target moods and motivations in consumers and employees.

Color Meanings and Motivational Effects

While reactions to color vary between cultures and individuals, general patterns have emerged:


Red symbolizes power, passion, and excitement. Exposure to the color red has been found to stimulate brainwave activity and boost metabolism and respiration rates. Red can motivate action by raising confidence, stimulating appetite, and increasing heart rate and blood pressure. However, too much red can also provoke anxiety and agitation.


Blue represents calmness, relaxation, and security. Looking at shades of blue lowers stress hormone levels and heart rate. Blue can have a motivating effect by inducing feelings of tranquility and clear focus. Light blues are ideal for productivity. Darker blues promote better sleep.


Green is associated with balance, nature, and renewal. Exposure to green can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and heighten creativity. Researchers found that seeing the color green before a task boosts motivation and performance. Dark greens are masculine and stimulating while light greens have a calming effect.


Yellow symbolizes sunshine, joy, and energy. Yellow boosts mood and motivation in small doses. Brighter yellows inspire optimism and extroversion. Pale yellows reduce anxiety. Yellow can improve focus but too much is overstimulating. Yellow boosts metabolism which can increase appetite.


Orange represents enthusiasm, fun, and adventure. Orange is uplifting and inspires confidence and creativity. In large doses, orange can overstimulate so it’s best paired with cooler hues. Dark oranges are masculine while light peach is feminine and romantic.


Purple evokes imagination, spirituality, and luxury. Looking at purple can improve mood and boost creativity. However, too much purple can cause introspection. Light purples are uplifting and feminine while dark purples encourage deep concentration.


Pink represents nurturing, romance, and femininity. Exposure to pink lowers blood pressure and pulse rates, reducing aggression. Pink boosts motivation by promoting caring, kindness, and cooperation. However, too much pink can be emotionally draining.

How Companies Use Color Psychology

Top corporations carefully choose colors to spark desired motivations and behaviors in customers and employees. Here are some examples:

  • Fast food chains often use red and yellow to stimulate excitement and appetite.
  • Luxury brands like Tiffany’s use blue to convey trust, security, and calm.
  • Green is used in hospitals and healthcare brands to promote healing.
  • Financial corporations use conservative blues and grays to inspire stability and trust.
  • Creative brands like Crayola use bright, fun colors to spark imagination.
  • Purple is commonly used by spirituality and meditation brands to encourage wisdom and introspection.

Studies have also shown that workspace color impacts employee motivation:

Color Motivational Effect in the Workplace
Blue Boosts productivity, focus, and alertness
Red Increases urgency and stimulates energy but can provoke anxiety
Yellow Improves mood and promotes optimism and confidence
Green Reduces stress and enhances creativity
Purple Encourages imagination and introspection

Tips for Using Color to Increase Motivation

You can harness the power of color psychology to give yourself an inspirational boost at home or work. Here are some tips:

Choose energizing hues for high focus tasks

Opt for stimulants like red, orange, and yellow when you need to concentrate intensely or overcome inertia. Add energizing accents like throw pillows, wall art, or desk accessories in these hues.

Surround yourself with blue for relaxation

De-stress and lower anxiety by painting walls blue, wearing the color, decorating with blue, or looking at ocean photos. Cooler blues are more calming than bright primary shades.

Boost confidence with orange

Add a bright pop of orange when you need a shot of positivity. Orange boosts self-assurance so it’s ideal for competitive tasks. Try wearing or displaying the color before challenging endeavors.

Use pink to nurture creativity

Pink inspires caring and acceptance which helps creative juices flow. Add pale pink accents to a home office or wear the color when brainstorming to reap motivational benefits.

Go green to reduce stress

Green’s peaceful, zen-like quality lowers anxiety levels. Add houseplants, wear emerald tones, display art featuring nature, or gaze outside at greenery to relieve tension.

Spruce up your workspace with yellow

Cheer up a dreary office by painting walls yellow, displaying sunflowers, or picking a yellow mousepad or desk organizer. Yellow improves mood and focus.


Color wields significant influence over human motivation and behavior. By thoughtfully incorporating specific hues that have energizing, calming, or inspiring effects, you can boost productivity, creativity, and focus wherever you live or work. Pay attention to how different colors make you feel and leverage them purposefully to enhance your mindset.

With so much research validating color psychology principles, more people are tapping into the power of color for motivation. Companies use color strategically to influence customers and employees. You can also test out some of these findings in your own life to see if surrounding yourself with certain hues provides the desired lift.

So take motivation into your own hands by infusing the colors that stimulate you into your environment. With this simple approach, you may find untapped reserves of energy, ideas, and inner resolve. Once you discover the hues that make you feel more inspired, productive, calm, or confident, put them to work through visual cues that lift your mood and empower performance.