The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Color in
Health Care Environments
General design objectives, sensory stimulation, visual perceptions, fatigue, color consonance and compensation, color associations, as well as, the psychological and physiological effects of color are extremely important considerations in healthcare design. I believe that as designers it is very difficult to veer away from the aesthetics of a particular environment when doing a presentation because it has, up to this point, been the major focus of our concentration. We want to make sure that the space, above all else, is visually pleasing.
As designers we must, however, realize that our first objective is to do the research for the best possible color scheme both physically, emotionally and physiologically for our clients. Realizing that we are not designing a space for ourselves, as we are able to leave that space after the project is completed. The programming phase is truly the most important aspect of obtaining the best possible plan for our clients. We need to talk with our clients and asking important questions to know how they feel about certain colors, and secondly understanding the required function of that space. We then need to analyze the space at different times of day to determine how the lighting affects the areas we have been contracted to design. After we have done the required research and investigations then we should implement and meet all the necessary code compliances necessary to make the space as physically safe as it is visually pleasing.
In order to choose proper color schemes for healthcare environments it is important to first understand how and why we respond to color in certain ways, as well as, how particular colors affect us psychological and physiological. Our response to color is inherited and learned but is also affected by geographic, region, climate, income and sophistication, as well as, the particular light source that is present.
Your endocrine system reacts a certain way to a color because of the neurotransmitters you inherited from your parents. When you see a color, it registers in your brain and your brain sends out a chemical messenger for a certain hormonal response from the appropriate endocrine gland. An endocrine gland manufactures one or more hormones and secretes them directly into the blood stream. The endocrine glands include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands; the ovaries and testis; the placenta; and part of the pancreas. Endocrine glands react to colors as acknowledged by your brain. For instance, red is exciting to the human brain; therefore, neurotransmitters stimulate the adrenal glands to pump adrenaline into the body.
As you grow from your life's experiences, you tend to choose new color preferences. People and events from your past can cause you to like and dislike certain colors in the present. For example, a favorite grade school teacher's blue dress can stimulate an appreciation for blue in your adulthood. Yet, an intense dislike for that teacher might cause you to "turn off" to blue. In adulthood, you tend to respond to stimuli the way that you were conditioned in childhood. The native colors of a geographic area you like can become your preferred colors. For instance, green could be your favorite color if a rainforest with its lush foliage is a place that helps you feel at ease mentally, spiritually and physically .Cultural attitudes towards specific colors can vary in different regions. All economic groups use status indicators, and color seems to be one of the most important. How you combine colors subtly reflects the class of people you associate with.
The quality and properties of light can cause you to experience the same color differently when the light source changes. Each season of the year has its own characteristic temperature range and ratio of daylight to darkness. Any Alaskan can tell you about the seasonal...
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