Feel blue? Don't wear it

June 16, 1994|By Jennifer Dukes | Jennifer Dukes,McClatchy News Service

Call it psy-color-gy, if you will -- the science of psyching out yourself, your friends, enemies, colleagues, clients and anyone else through the appropriate use of color.

Choosing the right color can help a dieter avoid eating too much.

The color of a car can assist a speeder who wants to dodge a police officer's watchful eye. Color selection can help start a conversation between colleagues or embattled lovers. It can work miracles with first impressions during interviews and dates.

And it can keep passers-by on a city street away.

Sound like some hokey sort of pseudo-science? Actually, color psychology is serious business for forecasters and consultants who say color is more powerful than most people realize.

"I don't think people truly do perceive the total ramifications of color," says color expert Nada Napoletan Rutka, president of the nonprofit Color Marketing Group in Alexandria, Va. "Colors can be a key to success."

That's good news for the Sacramento Kings, who last week unveiled a new color scheme. The basketball team traded its red, white and blue uniforms for a purple, black and silver version. For the woeful Kings, the alteration could be more than a hyped marketing strategy to sell T-shirts and jackets, color consultants predict.

Leatrice Eiseman, a Seabeck, Wash., color consultant and author of "Alive With Color," says the team members might feel and be perceived as more aggressive players on the court. A 1988 Cornell University study supports her conclusions, she says.

The study says sports teams that switched to black uniforms played more aggressively than when they were wearing white uniforms. The teams also ranked near the top of their leagues in penalties. Referees were subconsciously biased by black, which is characterized by its boldness, Ms. Eiseman says.

Joan Jackson knows the meaning of color, too, and says the Kings' new look is more appropriate than its previous nautical image. She owns Winning Impressions -- Color by Design, a Placerville (El Dorado County), Calif., company specializing in interior design and color analysis. She's also certified as a color psychologist, which means she took a year of graduate training to understand the shades that shape your feelings.

Purple, a color associated with royalty, and black, a color of strength, reflect the team's name, Ms. Jackson says. But you don't have to be a Sacramento King -- or a fan, for that matter -- to reap the benefits of color psychology.

Even though color alone can't alter human genes, it can change a person's perception of self, Ms. Eiseman says.

Color consultants contend that:

* If you're feeling blue, don't drape yourself in the color. Instead, take something yellow, red or orange off the hanger. Color experts and physiological researchers have issued a word of caution for dieters: Those same colors cause people to eat more and eat faster.

* Drivers prone to speeding tickets should avoid red cars, which are the most common targets of police officers, one study shows. (Experts call the color "arrest-me red.")

* If a speeding ticket leads to court, the defendant should wear blue -- the color of trust.

* On the job, women work more efficiently in beige or warm-colored surroundings; men work better in blue or cool-colored surroundings.

Of course, success is not the byproduct of color alone. "Wrapping a color around a morbid person is not going to make him a more colorful person," Ms. Rutka says.

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