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HOW COLOR PSYCHOLOGY INFORMS THE EMOTIONALITY OF LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Senior Thesis, December 2020
Lighting Designer

Featuring: Brandon Maxwell and Madison Macloud

 
 

Color psychology is an integral part of our lives that interweaves through most of our subconscious decisions—whether we know of our own personal color associations consciously or not, people tend to gravitate toward colors that prompt certain emotional reactions. Further, differing colors can signal different things when we perceive them. For example, a deep purple, velvet robe gives a strong sense of regality and poise, whereas a red robe of the same fabric portrays a more daring, aggressive personality. While every individual has personal preferences and experiences that make them process certain colors with different meanings and significances, general color associations are a function of social learning and are thus a widespread way to access subconscious messaging. By understanding how color psychology impacts subconscious processing, lighting designers can make more informed choices in their designs and implement the message of a production with greater success.

In order to garner a deeper understanding of color psychology, I will be researching the science of color psychology and human perception, pulling from my own experience to realize why I made certain creative choices, and attempting to implement the knowledge I have learned in a comparative example. Understanding the psychology behind color choices is crucial in the field of lighting design; by knowing the subconscious expectations humans hold for certain colors, designers can choose to heighten the tension in a scene, to drown the stage in a specific vibrant color, or to completely desaturate the look. This—combined with the emotionality of the actors’ performances, the directional vision, and the text itself—creates poignant scenes that can stay with audience members long after the show has ended, and has the potential to greatly impact viewers’ perceptions on their own life.