How Emotions Can Affect Color Perception

The way we perceive the world depends largely on our mood.



Have you ever felt angry and as a result, little things annoyed you that usually wouldn’t? Have you ever felt so happy that seemingly nothing could bring you down? We have all had these experiences, but did you know that something similar happens in the way that we perceive color? Our mood can even make the colors we see appear different than their actual hue.

Sadness Impairs Color Perception

A study consisting of 127 undergraduate students was done to assess the link between mood and color perception. Students were randomly assigned to watch an emotionally charged film clip—one sad, one happy. After the video, they were shown 48 muted color patches and were asked to indicate if the patch was red, yellow, green, or blue. The study concludes that the participants who watched a sad video clip were less accurate in identifying colors on the blue-yellow spectrum than participants who watched the happy video clip; accuracy was the same for colors on the red-green axis.

So, what does that mean exactly? It means that those who were actually “feeling blue” had a harder time identifying blue (and yellow)! Previous research shows that the neurotransmitter dopamine—the “happy” or “feel good” neurotransmitter—is specifically linked with color perception on the blue-yellow axis. Not surprisingly, dopamine is involved in vision, mood regulation, and some mood disorders. Our vision, perception, and mood are closely linked!

Seeing the World through Rose-colored Glasses

Although more research is being done on this subject and what exactly it means for us, in the meantime, it may be a good idea to try to see the world through “rose-colored glasses.” Happiness affects all areas of our life, even our vision as it turns out! It’s more than your eye health to us; we provide care that contributes to your whole body health. Our main goal is to keep your vision healthy so that you can be as happy as you can be!


Top image by Flickr user Andrés Nieto Porras used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.


The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.


Author Vision Source — Published November 30, 2015

Posted In Eye Health Awareness


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