Effects of Emotion and Color on Memory

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Effects of Emotions and Color on Memory

Effectsof Emotion and Color on Memory


Tableof Contents



Significanceof the Study……………………………………………….8



Datacollection procedure………………………………………………11

Characteristicsof the participants……………………………………..11

Recruitmentof the participants ……………………………………….11







Iwould like to thank the entire undergraduate Psychology 100 studentwho participated actively in the research. I would also like tomention honorably my Supervisor for his valuable comments andsuggestions. Without your support, the research could not be asuccess. Thank you very much.


Humancognitive involves many aspects of mental processes. The methodsinclude the perception, attention, memory and thinking. Memory is thecentral dimension of the cognitive process since it gets associatedwith the retrieval of the key information that one receives from theenvironment.

Aim:The aim of the research was to determine the impact of the emotionand the color has on the memory. Can emotions and colors influencethe performance of the human memory

Method.The data got collected using anonymous self-administered thequestionnaire. The data also got analyzed quantitatively.

Findings:The finding exact that color influences the arousal rate, theattention and the ability to remember the information that oneencounter in the environment. The words that possessed the red colortend to be more remembered than those with the blue color.

Keywords: Emotions, Color, Retrieval, Memory.

Humanmemory refers to the mental process of encoding, retaining anddecoding environmental information that one receives. Today, most ofthe psychologists are working to unravel how the human cognitivesystem deals with the process of memorizing. One of the mostinteresting and fascinating questions that most cognitivepsychologists encounter during practice is the issue of enhancementof the human memory performance. Many variables have been raised toincrease the memory performance. Some of the variables that influencethe retrieval of the information from the human brain are the colorand the emotion. The human brain works best if the encoding of theinformation gets done using a manipulation of the color spectrum. Thefeeling that accompanies an experience also tends to affect the waythe human being will encode, memorize and decode information.Information that got accompanied with unpleasant or surreal emotiontends to stick in the human brain. The color is also one of thevital experiences that people experience on daily basis. Perceptionof what people see gets based on the visual experience.

Thecolor is a dominant channel that the information utilizes to move tothe human cognitive system. The color and the emotion are the usefultools of the learning. The tools also get used in the marketing,educational, communication and the sports sectors. The effectivenessof an advertisement will depend highly on the ability of the ad toutilize the colors and emotional aspects. Most of the advertisingagencies have reported an increase the brand recognition. The colorinfluences the attitude and the attention that human beings havetowards information or a name that get advertised. The emotions thatone elicit, when faced with information, tends to pressure the waypeople will restore the information. Information that gets presentedin a colorful way tends to attract people to re-read the informationand, therefore, to influence the memory. The emotion that theinformation generates also informs the way human beings will rememberthe information.

Inthe academic world, most of the institution test the ability of thestudents to recognize the concepts learned in the class byadministering exams. The school achievement gets based on theperformance of the students in the continuous assessment test and theexaminations. On the other hand, the ability of the students toutilize their cognitive abilities is vital in the performance of thetest that requires the efficient use of the memory. The cognitivedomain of learning refers to the capacity of the person to perceive,pay attention, think, remember and understand what they come across.The need to ensure that emotion and color get factored to enhanceretention of the information is essential. The strategy is vitalsince it facilitates the learning process and emotions and colors arecentral to motivating the learners to encode, store and decode whatthey learn in class. For the student to profit with what they learnin the different environmental setting will highly depend on theirability to retrieve the critical information required for thechallenge they are experiencing.

Inmedicine, the color and emotions as a therapy for memory-relatedproblems such as the autism, difficulty in learning and dyslexiaamong many others. The color and the emotions help the patients tounderstand better the aims of the therapy programs they are in and,therefore, improving the memory. For the patients suffering fromdyslexia, the color has been proven as an effective tool to reducedifficulties in reading. The same strategy and the inclusion of theemotions have been useful in the treatment of the patients withautism. Emotions get used in the treatment of the patients with theneurological problems such as the Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimerdisease is a form of dementia that results from neurodegeneration.The condition deteriorates the ability of the patient to rememberwhat they encounter in the environment. An extensive color andamplified emotions tend to enhance the short-term memory performanceof the human beings.


Aperson interacted in an environment where color and emotions rule.The ability of citizens to learn gets dependent n what theyexperience during the learning process. Since the capacity of thehuman beings is based highly on the capacity to make sense orabstractive meaning on what they learn in the social environment theyinteract.

Colorand emotions help people to interpret and understand the reality theyface in different. Behavioral changes that get experience in learningget based on the ability of the citizens to retrieve whatever theylearn in the environment. Therefore, the most important aspect oflearning and memory. The most fundamental question that arises is theextent in which color and emotions influence the cognitive aspect ofhuman beings.

Sometypes of learning as simple associative learning depend on the colorand emotions to help in modifying existing knowledge, values,preference and assist in the synthesizing the knowledge that onelearned in the environment. The study is vital since it seeks todetermine the effects of the emotions and color to the memory.


Warmcolors (such as red color) are associated with danger in the dailylife while cool colors (such as blue) get associated with security,the proposed study hypothesize that warm colors enhance memory fornegative words, while cool colors will improve memory for positive orneutral words.


Thedata got collected through the anonymous self-structuredquestionnaire that got administered to the sampled students in thePsychology 100 class. The students had the instruction, and thepurpose of the research explained to them, One of the instruction wasthat the researcher wanted to evaluate their memory by manipulatingdifferent colors on the words. The researcher worked with the sampledstudents directly during the research process. The research carriedno risk to the participants. The participants also had the option toquit the study. To ensure participants anonymity andconfidentiality, they were not allowed to write their names in thequestionnaires.


HumanMemory Models

Thehuman mind is dichotomized into two aspects. They include short-termmemory and the long term memory. Both elements play a vital role indetermining where and how people decode or retrieve the information. The theory proposes the primary and secondary memory aspects of humanmemory. One of the models is the behavioral model of human memory. Inthe model, the human memory is composed of a sensory register,short-term storage and the long term storage.

Oncethe environmental stimuli reach the sensory register in the humanbrain, different emotions get elicited and interpreted the emotionsdetermines the amount of the attention that one gives to theinformation. An additional attention leads to increased chances ofthe information getting moved to the long- terms memory. In the longterm memory, the information gets stored in a permanent nature.Information is stored efficiently in the long term memory afterextensive rehearsals, maintenance, heuristic and other memorizationstrategies.

Theother important model centers on the vitality of the processesinvolved in the human memory. The processes are either the thoroughsensory process or the deeper and elaborate semantic memory. Thesimple memory process involves the typical analysis of theinformation such as the physical and the visual characteristics ofthe information. The physical characteristics include the color thatthe information accompanies. The sensory process involves theemotions that get elicited when the information gets interpreted inthe human brain of the information.

Therefore,it is vital to recognize that the stimuli present in the environmentsuch as the color have the ability to activate the attention that oneplaces on the information. The stimulus is also involved in thedeeper processing level of the information or the control processes.Color influences the degree of the attention that one attribute toinformation and, therefore, enhancing the ability to remember the keyaspects. The color controls the level of the care. It also motivatesthe generation of the emotional arousal that improves memorysignificantly.

Therelationship between Attention and Memory

Attentionis the cognitive process that typically involves selectinginformation available in the environment. The ability to focus oninformation helps the person to remember the information. Somephysical characteristics of the information determine our capacity toencode and decode the information. An increase in the attention paidto certain information results to increase the degree in which oneretrieves the information. Color influences the level of the carethat get paid to information, the more colorful the information is,the more attractive it is and hence the more attention it garnered.Color also helps the people to generate emotion towards theinformation and, therefore, improving the ability to recall.

Memoryand visual attention are important factors that determine the abilityof the human mind. Bright colors such as red, yellow and orangeattracts more attentions and elicits more emotions than dull colorssuch as brown and gray.


Numberand characteristics of participants

Datafor the proposed study got collected from a total of 100undergraduate students. Participant’s age range should be between18 years and 35 years. Participants got recruited randomly, whichimplies that the gender proportions were not pre-determined.Independent variables to be considered in the proposed study includeparticipants’ emotions and color while word recognition (memory)was the dependent variable. An informed consent got obtained from allparticipants after the purpose of the study got explained. Informedconsent is an essential tool helps researchers comply with ethicalrequirements by informing members about the significance, procedure,potential risks, and their freedom to join or quit the study withoutpenalties (Denney &amp White, 2012). Also, an approval of theproposed research got obtained from the lecturer before carrying outthe actual research.

Recruitmentof the participants

Participantsfor the proposed study got recruited from the psychology class 100.Participants were randomly selected while seated in the class and gotrequested to take part in the study. Random selection was thepreferred method of picking members because it reduces chances of theoccurrence of bias, which in turn enhances the reliability of thesurvey findings. Participants were assigned randomly to one among thetwo color conditions. These color conditions include one cool colorand one warm color. There were 50 participants in the color conditionmarked with red and 50 participants in the color condition markedblue. The random assignment is the key assignment method that gotused to allocate participants to the five color conditions. Therandom assignment involved the allocation of participants todifferent groups without regarding the assignment of other studyparticipants (Miralles, 2010). The random assignment was to reducebias and enhance the credibility as well as the reliability of thefindings of the proposed study.


Thedata was collected using an anonymous self-structured questionnaire.A questionnaire was selected as the most suitable data collectiontool for the proposed study because it allows the researcher togather a large amount of information within a shorter period (Bird,2009). Also, a structured questionnaire facilitates the collection ofstandard information, which makes the process of data analysis andinterpretation easier. Some of the key apparatus that got used in thestudy include stopwatches and packets of different colors.


Thetotal number of the participants was 100. The mean score of theparticipants who participated in the memory of the word in the redcolor words was 78 while those who took part in the blue color were64. The mean difference was statistically different. The standarddeviation of the memory performance in the red and blue color was 9.4and 6.3 respectively. Further analysis revealed the following:

Theparticipants were 54 men and 46 ladies participated in the study witha total percentage ratio of 54% were male: 46% were female as shownbelow.

Onthe age of the students, 65% were of ages between 18- 24 years, 28%were of ages 25- 34 and 7 % were of ages 35- 44. The studentsparticipated in two groups with 50 participants dealing with thecolor blue and 50 dealing with the color red. The bar graph belowshows the distribution of the students among the age groups.

Withthe recognition of the colors and the shape presented earlier, 88% ofthe group dealing with red could easily recognize the previous colorof the word while 78 % in the blue category could easily identify thecolor.

Piechart for the word recognition in Red color category

PieChart for the word recognition in blue color category

Forthe arousal and the emotions questions in the questionnaire

68%of the participants working on the red color attributed the colorwith danger while 32% attributed the same color to fear. 64% of thestudents dealing with blue color attributed it with calmness while 36% attributed it with comfort.

Forthe attention questions, 88% of the group working on red color saidthat the color quickly captures their attention with 12 % dissenting.For the group working the blue color, 72% proposed that the colorquickly captures their attention while 28% said the opposite.

Colorand memory performance

Inthe study of the color and memory performance, both groups of theparticipants were given three minutes to recall the stimuli elicitedto them through a computer screen. 87% of the group working with redcolor could easily remember the shape of the stimuli while 13% couldnot. On the other hand, 67% of the group working with the blue colorcould remember the stimuli presented on the computer screen. Theresults are as shown below

Abilityto recall the Blue color

Thedata was further analyzed using the two way analysis of variance withthe following results getting obtained.

Thememory performance of the students reading the red-colored words

TheF(Memory of Red Colored Words)=17.2041 P&lt .0001


F(Blue colored words) = 6.615029 P = .0025

&nbspTherefore,there was statistically highly significant difference between thememory performances across the two groups.


Accordingto Radvansky (2006), the memory test, students could easily rememberthe color and the shape of the congruent with the color since theyproduce a considerable degree of attention. However, red has a higherlevel of attention since it elicits a meaning of danger. Therefore,the red colors enhance student’s memory than the blue color. Thedesire to increase the memory performance of a person should getbased on which color the information get packaged. Colors have atendency to capture attention and thus better memory.

Adawiah, Aidura (2012) argue that there is difference level arousal levelsin different colors, in the study too, there was a difference thatgot noted between the two colors. Arousal typically denotes to thestate of being alert in both physical and internal aspects. Thecolors arouse different emotional states. It got noted that aurallypresented words with red color tended to be remembered after twentyminutes while there was a lower rate of remembrance of the bluewords. The level of the arousals evoked by the blue and the redcolors have a primary effect on the memory performance of both theshort term and the long term domain.

Forthe relationship between colors, emotions, arousals and the memory,emotional arousal plays an important in keeping the information inthe memory system of the human brain. The colors that elicitdifferent emotions have the ability to enhance the relationshipbetween arousal and memory.

Accordingto Radvansky (2006), most of the students associate different colorswith different emotions. The majority of the patients associate redwith danger and fear while the others associate blue with calmness,hope and tranquility. Therefore, the colors have the emotionalarousing effect, and the effect depends on the type of the emotionassociated with it. Most of the people attach the red color with astronger emotion or feelings.

Radvansky(2006) also argues that the color also plays an essential role indetermining the memory performance of the human being. The colorinfluences the ability of the human brain to retaining information bydetermining the arousal and the attention levels. After testing thestudents on the capacity to recognize color in 50 milliseconds, thestudents could identify the red color quickly. The identification isdue to the arousal and the ability of the red color to improve one’smemory.


Theresults matched my hypothesis that color influences memory of thewords, however, the issue has not been entirely settled since theremay be other factors that affect the memory of the phrase. Otherfactors may include but not limited to intellectual ability, age,previous learning and the learning attitude.

Furtherresearch needs to get done so as the impact of these parameters isassessed. If they get addressed, we can conclude that the theory isvalid. The sample was also not massive enough to make the findingsrepresentative. There is the need to ensure that future experimentsget done using large samples.


Thecolors and the emotion that get elicited when one receives a stimulusfrom the external environment have a positive effect on the abilityto remember information. A human being mental ability to retaininformation gets on the manipulation of the variables such as thephysical characteristics of the informational and the responsetowards the stimuli. Those colors that is more appealing onmanipulative increases retention of the information.

Finally,the effectiveness of the color and emotions on the human being’smemory is based on the following factors. The color that accompaniesthe information during the encoding influences the future retrievalprocesses. The emotions that get elicited also during thepresentation of the information influences the memory of the words.The color is an important aspect since it characterizes emotionalattachment, memory, attention and attitude.




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