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How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals

How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals

Professor William Lidwell, M.S.
University of Houston

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How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals

Course No. 7022
Professor William Lidwell, M.S.
University of Houston
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4.3 out of 5
113 Reviews
80% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 7022
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Course Overview

There's more to colors than just aesthetics. There's an actual science behind how colors work on your eyes and your brain. And the secrets that scientists are uncovering offer astounding revelations on how colors influence the way you think, feel, and behave—often without your conscious awareness.

It's an exciting time in the scientific study of how colors affect us. Thanks to recent research, we now understand more richly how our brains are affected by color. And knowing how colors affect us informs how we tap into their power to create environments and achieve a breathtaking range of visual goals. It also allows us to dodge popular myths and misconceptions about color that can easily lead businesses and companies to make costly mistakes.

Consider, for example, these scientific truths about color:

  • Black uniforms tend to increase aggression and intimidation in conflict situations.
  • Red ties can give you an edge in confrontational negotiations, while blue ties can express a desire to collaborate.
  • Fire trucks increasingly are painted yellow because that's the color most visible to our eyes.
  • Aligning the right colors to products, brands, and ads can make or break a business's success.

That's only a small sampling of the increasingly detailed information we have about what colors mean. And what's truly surprising: The way our eyes perceive and our brains interpret reds, greens, blues, blacks, and other colors isn't a subjective experience, but a hard-wired one. It's a profound concept—one whose ramifications extend to everything from business and advertising to politics and entertainment to your personal diet and love life.

A must-have course for corporate leaders, design professionals, marketers, and anyone who communicates visually, How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals tells you everything you need to know about the science of color and its impact on all aspects of human experience. Delivered by design expert and professor William Lidwell of the University of Houston, these six lectures explore

  • the history, science, and cultural importance of the six universal colors,
  • how our brains have evolved to respond to colors without our conscious awareness,
  • the key experiments that have shaped our understanding of how colors work, and
  • ways to more effectively apply the science of color to achieve your personal or professional goals for a space.

Taken together, these lectures will open your eyes to why your favorite products practically jump off the shelf; why certain logos are more memorable than others; why particular scenes in nature evoke peace, joy, or fear; and so much more.

See Colors in a Whole New Way

Each lecture takes you inside the science behind a specific color or color pair, following the order in which humans have historically acquired color categories: black and white (which always come paired), red, yellow, green, and blue. In each instance, you'll investigate

  • the history and common usage of the color,
  • some of the biggest myths related to that color,
  • what scientific research has revealed about the meaning of that color, and
  • specific situational contexts that show how the color operates in the real world.

Central to this course is the expanse of information about how these colors work on our brains to steer our thoughts and actions. You'll draw intriguing connections between colors and specific moods such as anger, fear, and love. You'll go behind the scenes and watch the fascinating experiments and case studies that scientists have used to uncover what they know about color. And you'll finally understand the (often hidden) significance behind the colors of your everyday life.

Debunk Common Myths about Color

As interesting as the research about color is understanding how researchers arrived at those results. To aid you in this understanding, Professor Lidwell has created a virtual laboratory that incorporates exciting green-screen technology to recreate key color experiments that have proven integral to our current scientific understanding of how colors affect us. As he conducts you step-by-step through these visually dynamic experiments, he points out that a lot of what we think we know about color turns out to be wrong. And if you're a design or marketing professional, it's essential to know the truth about color choices so that your business or company dodges expensive mistakes and maximizes profits.

While bringing you up to date on the latest discoveries in the field, Professor Lidwell debunks a number of persistent color myths. You'll learn that

  • pink rooms will not calm aggressive prisoners or sap the strength of opposing teams;
  • yellow walls in the nursery will not cause babies to cry more often;
  • blue tableware or kitchen walls will not suppress your appetite (although food that's dyed blue certainly will); and more.

It's just the kind of eye-opening learning experience you'd expect from someone of Professor Lidwell's impressive background. Not only has he spent his career immersed in the intricate world of color as a designer, teacher, and best-selling author of Universal Principles of Design—he's lent his expertise as a consultant to major companies, including IKEA and Merrill Lynch.

With How Colors Affect You, you'll get a beautiful new perspective on color—one rooted in credible scientific knowledge and not popular myth. Once the curtain has been pulled back to show the myriad ways color truly shapes your life, you'll never look at the world in the same way again.

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6 lectures
 |  33 minutes each
  • 1
    The Meanings of Color
    Begin your exploration of how colors affect you with a look at the general science behind color, first uncovered during landmark experiments by Isaac Newton. Then, investigate the pervasive power of color on human behavior with a close look at how color shapes our perception of what food tastes like. Finally, with the aid of intriguing experiments and illuminating case studies, discover the three core ideas that form the foundation of how all humans perceive, interpret, and respond to color. x
  • 2
    The Black and White Lecture
    Contrary to what you may think, black and white are colors like any other when examined from the perspective of what your brain sees. In fact, they’re the only true universal colors. In this fascinating lecture, Professor Lidwell takes you inside the meanings behind these two elemental colors. You focus on two specific contexts for black and white: competitive contexts (where black signals aggression and white signals submission) and moral contexts (where black signals evil and white signals goodness). x
  • 3
    The Red Lecture
    Turn now to the color red, which holds a unique place in the pantheon of colors, thanks to its primal significance in expressing fear, strength, beauty, status, and passion. What do we know with confidence about the meanings behind the color red? Find out by examining several powerful examples of the color red at work: in competitive situations, where it signals dominance; in mating and courtship roles, where it represents male status and female fertility; and in more general situations, where it signals danger and avoidance. x
  • 4
    The Yellow Lecture
    Why is yellow the most vibrant color to the human eye? How does the human eye detect yellow wavelengths so effectively? Why is there such a fine line between “good” and “bad” shades of yellow? When does yellow signal health or weakness, happiness or danger? How can it work to help increase cognitive performance? Find the answers to these and other provocative questions in this richly detailed and rewarding lecture on one of nature’s most powerful colors. x
  • 5
    The Green Lecture
    Life. Fertility. Envy. Success. These are just a few of the many common associations the brain makes with the color green. Here, Professor Lidwell takes you even deeper into this lush color, guiding you through an exploration of two lesser-known contexts of green: as a way to foster creativity and a way to reduce anxiety and mental fatigue. You’ll also get a chance to probe some more anecdotal (but self-evident) psychological associations with green, including the ways it signals “naturalness” and “approach.” x
  • 6
    The Blue Lecture
    In this final lecture, focus on the last color in the logical color sequence and one of the most commonly chosen favorite colors throughout the world: blue. As you’ll discover, there are some interesting and unique properties of the color blue that set it apart from other colors and make it seem, in some respects, almost magical. You’ll learn about the ways blue fosters and promotes openness and creativity; friendliness and peacefulness; alertness and well-being; and also sadness and melancholy. x

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Your professor

William Lidwell

About Your Professor

William Lidwell, M.S.
University of Houston
Professor William Lidwell lectures at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston. He also serves as Director of Innovation and Development at the Stuff Creators Design Studio in Houston, Texas. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Texas State University and his M.S. in Interaction and Instructional Design from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. A designer, teacher, and author, Professor...
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Reviews

How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 113.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good basic course Doing some painting as a hobbyist, I was interested in this course about colors, but this was only about the basic colors and a lot of the material seemed to be about color as used by businesses. Browns, purples and varieties of other colors were not covered much, if at all. While being somewhat disappointed, I think this would be a basic course for someone just getting into the subject. The length of the course also prevents one from delving into the entire history and discussion on colors as a 24 or 36 lecture series would entail. I have the DVD of this course.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How colors As a visual artist I am interested in the science behind color. This course was both historically and scientifically based. It was a survey type course that made me want to look deeper into both categories.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating take on color I got this on a whim and so glad I did. I've learned so much about colors and how we relate to them. It's changed the way I think about them.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course Since I bought this I have watched the whole thing at least twice. I am a painter and I love colors and it was extremely interesting to hear about color and its effect. It also helps in decorating the inside of our home and why some colors work better than others.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tip of the Iceberg! I watched the series with a fair bit of expectation, having read much over the years about color, and I must confess I was disappointed in this series of lectures. I felt the Professor barely scratched the surface of everything that each color signifies. I kept hoping for more, and then it was the end of the lecture. What he spoke about was interesting, but just not enough.
Date published: 2017-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Somewhere, under the raindow, a great color brief "How Colors Effects You" is a great value (on sale), in a very short form with limited followup materials and accessibility. The instructor presentation is engaging, but fun in a serious way. In brief, I wish there was more here. Introductory color design tips, and everyday uses, are the mainstay information. However, the intended audience includes not only those who want to pick a house color, room color, or clothes color; but also designers in general, including IT solutions such as web sites and apps, and industrial designs for product and promotional motifs. My motivation includes IT design issues, but also decor and car color choice issues my wife and I are frequently in a quandry about. The offering presents color based scientific findings and an historical perception vantage that truly amazed me, especially about the verified findings that Homer and contemporaries couldn't see blue. Anyone interested in The Great Courses "Understanding Linguistics" by McWhorter may also be interested in the cultural language development of colors presented, as well as the various references presented about this subject. My big issue with the offering is that even on the DVD version, closed captions are not available, and a reference book is not available. As such, the "References" video section must be stopped to copy out references by hand. There are passing references to hue, value, saturation, and color harmony design, but deep insight is necessarily limited. Although this offering is highly recommended as a springboard, I wish the presentation mechanics had The Great Courses usual finish. As to computer solution design, the offering is a great start to color as an often overlooked aspect of web and app design in IT practice. The design of widgets, templates, and mashups should include color research insights presented here. (Note that this is of general interest, because on- line users should realize how they are being influenced.) Even the non- technical, but especially IT developers, will find the information at "sessions.edu", and Google/ Bing lookup of "color wheel" extraordinary. Those web and app designers who need more substantial consumer guidance may also consider: "http://www.cs.kent.edu/~svirdi/Ebook/wdp/ch07.pdf" which has a chart of cross- cultural differences, more detail on the effect of color harmony. There is a new version of the well recieved and inexpensive "PANTONE Color Resource" by Leatrice Eiseman due in Sept 2017, and this may be one of the written reference works I'd really like. If any techie reading this finds a great color reference specific to web pages and apps, please add it as a comment.
Date published: 2017-07-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lots of Science Experiments This course was accurately described in the Great Courses catalog, but I was expecting something different. It was similar to a Nova or Psychology Today presentation on how people perceive and respond to black, red, yellow, green, & blue. It presented results from several studies/experiments involving color, with summaries on how the results could be applied to product marketing or social encounters.
Date published: 2017-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Much More than I Expected I absolutely adored this course. I had never realized so much research has been done concerning how color affects us, and I was repeatedly surprised by what I learned. The professor takes a cross-cultural, "what is true for all human beings?" which I appreciated. (He did discuss cultural differences but as they applied to what is known about color in general.) His lecture style is warm, colloquial, and easy to follow. I had to discipline myself to watch only one lecture per day, and I found it helpful to share what I'd learned with my friends. I think it is likely that just about anyone who watches these lectures will learn something that will be useful and/or delightful in his or her own life. Viewers will also learn things that are just plain fun. I didn't know what to expect, but the title is actually completely accurate. I definitely recommend this course!
Date published: 2017-06-25
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