The Color Psychology of Yellow

Yellow color psychology
Aimin Tang/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The color yellow can be bright and intense, which is perhaps why it can often invoke such strong feelings. Yellow can quickly grab attention, but it can also be abrasive when overused. It can appear warm and bright, yet it can also lead to visual fatigue.

Color psychology suggests that certain colors are capable of evoking certain moods and may even have an influence over behavior and well-being. While color associations can be influenced by a number of different factors, including past experiences and cultural associations, some colors do tend to evoke certain moods or feelings.

Learn more about some of the emotions and moods that the color yellow creates.

The Color Psychology of Yellow

  • Yellow is a bright that is often described as cheery and warm.
  • Yellow is also the most fatiguing to the eye due to the high amount of light that is reflected. Using yellow as a background on paper or computer monitors can lead to eyestrain or vision loss in extreme cases.
  • Yellow can also create feelings of frustration and anger. While it is considered a cheerful color, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms and babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.
  • Yellow can also increase the metabolism.
  • Since yellow is the most visible color, it is also the most attention-getting color. Yellow can be used in small amount to draw notice, such as on traffic sign or advertisements.

How does yellow make you feel? Do you associate yellow with certain qualities or situations? Remember that the associations people have with colors are not necessarily universal.

Both cultural differences and individual experiences can shape how people feel in response to certain colors.

Learn more about how other people respond to the color yellow in this collection of responses that people have shared over the years.

Yellow Is Energetic

As seen in the following quotes from our readers, yellow is often perceived as being a high-energy color.

It is often used in situations and products intended to create a sense of excitement or energy.

"Fully saturated yellow is only good for brief exposure, because its stimulating effect is so powerful that it can build up emotional energy quite quickly. I know that I would probably go nuts in a house with LEGO yellow walls. Though it should be noted that a less saturated yellow, such as that found in whipped vegetable spread (faux butter) is mildly pleasing and cheery." - TheOddStrange

"Yellow makes me feel cheerful and energized. I love the bright sunny colour and the way it makes me feel. I feel warm like summer. Perhaps sometimes startling, but then that is what energizes me." -Val

Yellow Can Be Aggressive

While it can be an energetic color, this intensity can also have a downside. Sometimes yellow can come off as very aggressive and even confrontational. In great quantities, people may be left feeling irritated or even angry when surrounded by yellow.

"I agree that there is a level of aggression and frustration associated with yellow. The walls of my school are all yellow and since the new building opened, more fights have occurred in the hallways where there is the most amount of yellow.

Also, some of the classrooms that have yellow in them seen to be associated with more frustrated students." - Jasmine

"I find yellow to be a highly irritating color. When I'm in a yellow room, my agitation level increases whether I was in a good mood before I walked in it or not. One reason I believe I find it so annoying is that I'm an introvert and yellow is a very exposing and in your face type of color which are traits most introverts would naturally have an aversion to. Yellow is definitely an extrovert's color." -Allyson

Yellow Is Complex

Of course, the effects of yellow can be highly varied and complex.

Some may associate it with a warm summer day, while to others it might be reminiscent of bad memories or associations.

"I like yellow. To me it's a happy colour associated with flowers and sunshine. But our kitchen is painted yellow and I find that my fiance who has a short temper almost always loses it in the kitchen. He also becomes much more impatient and argumentative. I have always suspected that it is the colour of the walls. Guests also tend to eat their food faster at the kitchen table than when we entertain in the dining room (white) or outside." - curiousaries

Yellow Is Cheerful

For many people, yellow is seen as a bright and cheerful color. Advertisers may use it to not only draw attention, but also to evoke a sense of happiness.

"I had a maths class room that was painted bright yellow half way through the year. It completely changed the atmosphere and everyone's grades seemed to go up. Our maths teacher joked it must be the new paint job, but I entirely believed it was. It gave a cheery atmosphere and the lessons were far more light and enjoyable!" - fred

"The colour yellow exudes brightness, light, vitality, energy, optimism, willingness to grow and outshine. Sun stars sunflower are the objects that mostly are associated with the colour yellow." -Jaya

"How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun." -Vincent Van Gogh

Back to Color Psychology

Continue Reading