How the Colors You See Determine
What You Feel
A new study confirms that certain hues trigger similar emotions across the globe
by Sarah Elizabeth Adler, AARP, October 16, 2020
Close your eyes and think of the color red. What feelings come to mind? If you said love or fury, you're not alone.
According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, people around the world associate certain colors with the same emotions. Researchers from various institutions, including the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, surveyed 4,598 people from 30 countries across six continents who were asked to assign up to 20 different emotions to 12 different colors. They found that some reactions are universal: Red, for example, is linked to both love and anger around the globe.
The field of color psychology includes plenty of speculation, but there are some widely accepted color-emotion associations that have long been embraced by everyone from advertisers to decorators (including red's link to passion) to elicit positive feelings. Author and color consultant Leatrice Eiseman says that some of those associations appear to be at least partly culturally dependent.
White, for instance, tends to be associated with relief and purity in many Western countries (hence the white wedding dress). But in some parts of Asia white clothing is worn during mourning — which is why study participants in China were more likely to associate it with sadness as well as relief.
Other colors’ more universal emotional associations may be due to the influence of the natural world that surrounds us, says Eiseman, who is the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and head of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training.
She surmises that we begin to form positive feelings about the colors found in nature, like yellow sunlight or a clear blue sky, at a young age.
Wondering how your reactions to popular hues measure up? Here's what Eiseman says about these common hues and the feelings they inspire.
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Most people are capable of seeing approximately 1 million colors thanks to the light-sensitive cone cells in our eyes, meaning the reaction you have to a pastel lavender tone could be quite different from the feelings evoked by a deep eggplant purple.
Face Masks Can Prove Tricky for Those With Eyeglasses
Science offers solutions for when your specs fog up
by Peter Urban, AARP, Updated April 24, 2020
As more Americans don face masks to venture outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who wear glasses are finding that their lenses fog up. It's a problem that bespectacled surgeons, as well as goggle-wearing skiers, have long experienced.
Why does it happen? In a 1996 article in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Tom Margrain, a professor at Cardiff University's School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, explained that in general “when a spectacle wearer enters a warm environment after having been in a cooler one, his/her spectacles may ‘mist up’ due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface.” He went on to say that polycarbonate lenses demisted more rapidly than those made of glass.
Best Face Mask Materials: Cotton With Chiffon
If you are making a homemade mask, a new study published in the scientific journal ACS Nano found that homemade face masks that use a combination of tightly woven cotton and polyester-spandex chiffon or silk will provide a very effective filter for the aerosol particles that spread the COVID-19 virus. Masks made with one layer of cotton and two layers of chiffon (a netlike fabric often found in evening gowns) or silk will filter out some 80 to 99 percent of particles — similar to the effectiveness of the N95 mask material — due to the electrostatic barrier of the fabric. But here’s the kicker: The mask must have a snug fit. Even a 1 percent gap reduces the filtering of all face masks by 50 percent or more.
With that in mind, if your eyeglasses are fogging when you put on a face mask, it's because warm, moist air you exhale is being directed up to your glasses. To stop the fogging, you need to block your breath from reaching the surfaces of your lenses.
The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published an article in 2011 that offered a simple method to prevent fogging, suggesting that, just before wearing a face mask, people wash their spectacles with soapy water, shake off the excess and then allow the lenses to air-dry.
"Washing the spectacles with soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces this surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer,” the article reveals. “This ‘surfactant effect’ is widely utilised to prevent misting of surfaces in many everyday situations.” Antifogging solutions used for scuba masks or ski goggles also accomplish this.
Another tactic is to consider the fit of your face mask, to prevent your exhaled breath from reaching your glasses. An easy hack is to place a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from reaching your glasses. Also, make sure the top of your mask is tight and the bottom looser, to help direct your exhaled breath away from your eyes.
If you are using a surgical mask with ties, a 2014 article in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England advises going against your instincts. Tie the mask crisscross so that the top ties come below your ears and the bottom ties go above. It will make for a tighter fit.
We perceive shades of green more easily than any other color because of the way light reaches our eyes — and as the predominant color of foliage and vegetation, green both calms us and lifts our spirits because of its association with nature, Eiseman says. In fact, she says there's a growing movement to incorporate green tones in settings like hospitals and assisted living facilities to help bring some of green's benefits in from the great outdoors. Many people choose green for their home offices as well.
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There's a reason people are drawn to a bright red teapot or an eye-catching red dress, Eiseman says. As what she calls nature's “most prevalent fatal color” (think about the color of an open flame or certain poisonous creatures), red tones are linked to pain, violence and danger — but, by extension, to love and excitement as well.
The "Eyes" Have It!
Everything You Don't Really Need to Know About Your "Windows to the World"
Bright yellow, which stimulates us like sunlight, is associated with happiness and joy -— sunny, cheerful emotions, Eiseman says. It's often used in children's toys. Some designers warn against using bright yellow in the bedroom because of its lively effect, potentially hampering sleep.
Blue is a favored color for corporate logos of all types, from airlines to tech and pharmaceutical companies. That makes sense, Eiseman says, considering that most people associate it with credibility, dependability and a sense of assurance — a reaction that may in part be shaped by our earliest recognition of the blue sky's constant presence. It's also associated with freshness and serenity.
On Page 7:
* 10 Fascinating facts About Your Eyes
* How the Colors You See Affect How You Feel
* Anti-fog Solutions for Glasses and Masks
Brown inspired the fewest common emotions globally in the recent study. In the United States, Eiseman says, views on brown made a “complete switch” in the 1990s. Once associated primarily with dirt or dirtiness, brown is now a color people say is rich and delicious — like the color of chocolate or coffee.
10 Fascinating Facts About Your Eyes
and How We See the World
All about night vision, optical illusions, eye color and more
by Sarah Elizabeth Adler, AARP, October 9, 2020
1. Most people can see a million colors
Scientists estimate that the average person can see at least a million colors thanks to the eye's cone cells, which send signals to the brain that allow us to perceive different hues. If that sounds impressive, consider that people with a rare condition called tetrachromacy have an extra type of cone cell and can see as many as 100 million colors as a result!
2. You spend 10 percent of your waking hours blinking
Blinking keeps your eyes lubricated and protects them from dust and debris, which may help explain why we do so much of it: The average person blinks between 15 and 20 times per minute, or 14,400 to 19,200 times a day — that's about 10 percent of your waking life, or upwards of 5 million times in a year.
3. The quick-healing cornea has no blood vessels
The cornea is the transparent covering over the front part of the eye — and unlike other body parts, it doesn't have its own blood supply (instead, it receives oxygen from the air). The cornea does, however, have nerve endings, which is why scratching your eye can hurt quite a bit. Fortunately, most abrasions heal quickly, within 24 to 72 hours.
4. Blue-eyed people share a common ancestor
If you have a pair of baby blues, you're among the 8 to 10 percent of the population worldwide with blue eyes, which are the result of a mutation that causes the irises to lack pigment. Researchers believe this mutation first appeared in a person who lived in Europe between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, meaning all blue-eyed people alive today share a common ancestor.
5. How you feel affects what you see
For people struggling with depression, saying that the world seems drab, flat, or gray may be more than a metaphor. Research has found that individuals with major depression experience measurable differences in how their eyes perceive contrast, which validates the idea that mental health can influence how we see our surroundings.
6. Night vision occurs slowly
If you feel like your eyes need time to adjust to a dark room, that's because they do. Night vision takes between 20 and 30 minutes to “turn on” through a process known as dark adaptation. Even once our eyes have adjusted, our surroundings appear mostly black-and-white because the rod cells that allow us to see in dimly lit conditions aren't responsible for color vision.
7. Fooled by your eyes? Blame the brain
When it comes to vision, eyesight is only part of the equation — visual information is captured by our eyes but processed by more than 30 areas of the brain. Optical illusions, for example, work by tricking the brain into incorrectly interpreting what your eyes see or by creating a new image that isn't there at all.
8. Your eye color is one-of-a-kind
Just like fingerprints, the colors and patterns within the iris, or colored part of the eye, are unique (so unique, in fact, that iris scans have been found to be more successful than fingerprint recognition technology). Even identical twins who share DNA don't have identical irises.
9. 20/20 vision isn't “perfect”
We often call 20/20 vision “perfect,” but that measurement simply means someone is able to see an eye chart as expected from 20 feet away — meaning it's possible to see even more sharply. One study of professional baseball players, for example, found that more than three-quarters of players had 20/15 vision or better, meaning they could see clearly from 20 feet what the average person sees at 15.
10. Color blindness is a guy thing
Some form of color blindness, or color deficiency, affects approximately 1 in 10 men, most often resulting in trouble distinguishing between red and green tones. Less commonly, someone might not be able to tell blues and yellows apart.