Relationship Between Humans And Colour In Architectural Spaces Colour can clarify and define space, form and structure, yet in many architectural practices is often considered only at the final stages of the design process. This tendency to subordinate colour reflects an attitude held by many design professionals since the Renaissance. The premise that colour is secondary to form, the disegno colore theory, was established by Aristotle in his Poetics during the Renaissance. Further reinforcing this belief, the architect Le Corbusier influenced the role of colour in architectural design still upheld by many today. He considered whiteness to convey order, purity, truth and architecture. His views were further supported by contemporaries such as Adolf Loos who considered white to be the colour of heaven, while Theo van Doesburg believed it the spiritual colour of the period (Minah 2008). White became the epitome of modern architecture. While Le Corbusier latterly modified his attitude toward the relationship of colour in architecture, the colour rules established in his work Purism, co-written with AmÃ©dÃ©Ã© Ozenfant, were never as influential as his earlier beliefs (Batchelor 2000). The following paper examines the importance of colour within architectural space and its ability to influence mental well-being through its sensory and physiological properties. Experiencing Colour What is fundamental in understanding the use of colour and light in interior space? Why do some spaces bring joy, while other do not? Many would judge it simply a matter of taste, while others an expression of artistic skill, use of precise colour theory or scientific research. It is a complex combination of many factors, both human and scientific. Colour is perceived by the eye through different wavelengths of light carried to us by our surroundings and interpreted by the brain (Nassau 1998). Without light there would be no colour. Light reflects off surfaces, triggering an electromagnetic response in the eye, which in turn translates into colour within the brain (Miller 1997). Our perception of colour is dictated by its hue (actual colour), its intensity or depth of tone (saturation) and its brightness, creating shade and shadow (Miller 1997). An academic interest in the psychological meaning of colour has been prevalent for centuries. Philosophers from ancient Greece dating back to Aristotles time, artists post da Vinci, the early 19th century poet Goethe and subsequent latter day psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, etc, have theorised and investigated the complexity of human response to, and use of colour (Birren 1978; Sharpe 1980). Shown in Table 1. are the six categories believed by Graham, to be key to the human responses to colour within the built environment (Pierman 1978). The scope of the subject is so huge that for the purpose of this paper my main focus will be physiological, mood and associative response to colour and its implications on our experience of interior space. Biological Reactions of a Colour Stimulus There is a reoccurring theme in published literature on human response to colour, namely, the association of hues at the long or warm end of the visible spectrum (red, orange and pink) with arousal and excitation, and those at the short or cool end (green, blue violet) with calmness and relaxation (Goldstein 1942; Gerard 1958; Wilson 1966; Jacobs and Hustmyer 1974) which crosses multi-cultural boundaries (Oyama, Tanaka et al. 1962; Adams and Osgood 1973). Although not all results have shown identical outcomes in respect of systolic blood pressure, skin conductance, respiration, heart rate, eye-blink frequency and electrical brain activity, the emotional responses have been similar. Further studies have used word associations with colour, such as blue being associated with tender, soothing, secure and comfortable and orange with disturbing, distressed, upset (Wexner 1954). A more recent study attempted to replicate the findings of Gerrard, with a focus on the effect on cardiovascular function (Yglesias, Stewart et al. 1993). Whilst the effect on the heart could not be replicated the individuals mental expectations of the consequence of the colours was in accord with previous literature. Jacobs and Seuss similarly found the effects of 4 primary colours projected onto a large screen produced high anxiety levels for red and yellow, consistent with earlier studies (Jacobs and Hustmyer 1974) Schauss claimed that pink colours acted as a natural tranquilizer and had successfully subdued prison inmates (Schauss 1979), but this has not been substantiated in further studies (Pellegrini, Schauss et al. 1981). The earlier findings may have been more to do with the Hawthorne effect, particularly as such a result would contradict the prevalent red/blue spectrum theory. Whilst all of the above research with its consequent design implications was carried out using coloured light, slides, patches, or words, KÃ…Â±ller et al experimented using full scale decorated rooms. Those decorated with colours from the long visible spectrum created greater arousal than those from the short spectrum. Additionally, introverts or those in a negative mood became more affected than others, impacting their performance (KÃ…Â±ller, Mikellides et al. 2009). Similarly, Kwallek found that an individuals ability to screen colours for irrelevant stimuli had an impact on the effect of colour. High screeners were more productive in a red working environment, while low screeners performed better in a blue-green office (Kwallek, Soon et al. 2006) (Kwallek, Soon et al. 2007) (Kwallek, Woodson et al. 1997). In addition, Kwallek et al found saturation of colour was a significant predictor of differences in mood between males and females. Ainsworth contrarily found no difference in performance between red and blue offices (Ainsworth, Simpson et al. 1993). However, In a study of almost 1000 workspaces in four countries, interior colour was recognised as an important influencing element of mood and performance (KÃ…Â±ller, Ballal et al. 2006). A key article by Kaiser reviews the varied literature on non-visual physiological responses by humans to colour, (Kaiser 1984a), concluding that there are reliable physiological responses to colour recorded, but that some of the results may have been effected by cognitive response to colour (Kaiser 1984a). The preceding review shows that, despite considerable interest and research, studies have yet to provide a thorough and empirically proven set of rules for the relationship between colour and emotions (Valdez and Mehrabian 1994). Cognitive Response to Colour The way we respond to colour can also be a result of conscious symbolism or associated actions. Yglesias et al showed that we have expectations in respect of our response to certain colours (Yglesias, Stewart et al. 1993), regardless of involuntary physiological responses. These may be learned through culture or tradition, memory, preferences or fashion. Colour associated with actions can be seen in the red, amber and green of traffic lights conveying stop, yield and go, respectively. When these colours are used in isolation from their connection with traffic, they can still influence their association (Hutchings 2004). Red is commonly used to signify danger, or to command attention and is the most pervasive colour signal in nature (Humphrey 1976). It can, however, have a somewhat ambiguous meaning as it is the colour of edible berries, signifies love, lust, anger and blood; a combination of both positive and negative symbolism. Culture and tradition can connect specific emotions with certain colours. Typically, white is worn by Western brides for its connection with purity, whereas in India the preferred colour is red (Hutchings 2004) and in other countries black, which is in stark contrast to its commonly accepted association with mourning (Kaya and Crosby 2006). White continues its connection with purity through its use in kitchens and bathrooms, translating into cleanliness and hygiene. It can also be seen in its association with hospitals and specifically the doctors coat, further reinforcing its sterile status (Blumhagen 1979). In China white is associated with righteousness. Black is associated with dullness and stupidity in Indian culture, while red implies ambition and desire (Kreitler and Kreitler 1972). Colours can also be steeped with religious meaning through association. For instance, green is the sacred colour of Islam (Kaya and Crosby 2006), and was also considered sacred by the Celts up until the Christian church introduced white (Singh 2006). In addition to white, purple is the symbolic colour used in Christian churches throughout Lent for drapes and altar frontals, while orange is considered the most sacred colour in Hindu religion. Red and white is a combination used for ritual decorations in Melanesia and for representing the Sacred Heart of the Catholic Church in Mexico (Singh 2006). Colours with religious connotations and subsequent emotional connection can have a profound effect on an interior if inappropriately used and could cause offence, or negative feelings. Colour associations also appear to rely on an individuals previous knowledge and experience, combined with personal emotional connections. Kaya and Crosby found colour schemes were remembered in alliance with known interiors, such as restaurants, schools or their homes and, subsequently deemed appropriate colours for specific building types or rooms. For example, some related the colour blue with feelings of relaxation, calmness, comfort and peace, with an associated link to hotels and residences (Kaya and Crosby 2006). Red, a colour frequently aligned with stimulation and arousal, was often coupled with places of entertainment, such as restaurants (Kaya and Crosby 2006). Conclusion A complex collection of factors combine to dictate an individuals perception of colour within the built environment. Despite decades of research into our physiological response to colour and its implications, scientific results have been contradictory and sometimes inconclusive, albeit with a general consensus on reaction to colours within the short and long visible spectrum. For example, as highlighted earlier, red wavelengths can influence biological rhythms, with green wavelengths being weaker. These results are a direct physiological response. A human does not have to have any knowledge of the colour red for a biological response. However the result may be compounded by an indirect physiological response to the colour based on cognition. For instance, an individual may have a strong mental association of red with blood, violence, fire or hatred. We all have our own personal knowledge of colour, based around culture, tradition and memory, which serve to guide our choice and experience of colour and light. In addition, response to colour can also be influenced by our immediate environment, such as whether we are alone or in a group, or how we are feeling at the time and its effect on our ability to screen colours. A person in a depressed mental state may not respond in the same way as someone in a more positive mood. Colour is a powerful force which can be used in different way to motivate and stimulate, to control our actions, to create an environment of joy or misery. In making colour choices for interior space, it is crucial to understand the nature and culture of the users, in conjunction with scientific research. It is important to discern whether the chosen colour has a direct physiological impact on a particular biological function, or if the colour effect depends on cognitive learning or emotional associations. Selection should also consider the implications of hue and saturation of colour, which play a strong part in eliciting positive feelings and a sense of well-being when appropriately chosen. Interiors should not be devised purely for reasons of fashion or aesthetics, if the aim is to elicit a positive emotional response from the user; a more considered approach should be undertaken. 1876
Social exchange theories exist in various forms but the underlying theme is that people may be selfish. Social exchange theories argue people may view relationships in a â€œprofitâ€ or â€œlossâ€ way. Thibaut & Kelley believed people will look to see how rewarding a relationship is and then how much it costs to be in the relationship. If there is a profit left over (rewards â€“ costs = profit) then that may encourage them to continue the relationship where as if there is a loss â€“ this may motivate them to end the relationship.
Blau argued that interactions are â€œexpensiveâ€, as they take time, energy and commitment and may involve unpleasant emotions and experiences. Therefore what we get out of a relationship must exceed what goes in. Walster et al believed that social interactions involve an exchange of rewards, like affection, information, status. The degree of attraction or liking reflects how people evaluate the rewards they receive in relative to those given.
SET is therefore an economic theory explaining relationships in terms of maximising benefits and minimising costs. The â€œSocial exchangeâ€ is the mutual exchange of rewards between partners; like friendship, sex and the costs of being in the relationship may be freedoms given up, time, effort. A person may make their assessment of their rewards by using two comparisons: The comparison level (CL) â€“ where rewards are compared to costs to judge profits.
This may be based on past experiences and relationships as well as what we expect to get from a relationship. The comparison level for alternative relationships (CLalt) â€“ Where rewards and costs are compared against perceived alternative relationships and how they compare. A relationship is maintained if profit is perceived in both these two comparisons.
Thibaut & Kelley proposed a four-stage model setting how relationships could be maintained, predicting that over time people develop a predictable and mutually beneficial pattern of exchanges assisting the maintenance of relationships; Sampling â€“ Rewards and costs are assessed in a number of relationships Bargaining â€“ A relationship is â€œcosted outâ€ and sources of profit and loss are identified Commitment â€“ Relationship is established and maintained by predictable exchange of rewards Institutionalisation â€“ Interactions are established and the couple â€œsettle downâ€.
Mills et al identified two kinds of intimate relationships; (a) The communal couple where each partner gives out of concern for the other and (b) The Exchange couple who keep mental records of who is ahead and who is behind. This indicates that there are different types of relationships and SET may apply to some of them but not universally to all. Rusbult asked participants to complete questionnaires over a 7-month period concerning rewards and costs and found that SET did not explain the early â€œhoneymoonâ€ phase of the relationship when balance of exchanges was ignored.
However later on relationship costs were compared with degree of satisfaction which suggests that the theory is best applied to the maintenance of relationships. Rusbult found that costs and rewards from a relationship were weighed up in comparison to possible alternative relationships when deciding whether they should be maintained which supports that social exchange models idea that people assess rewards by making comparisons.
However a third element of investment (Commitment) was also a factor in this in which people compared how much they had invested into the relationship and what they stood to lose â€“ which SET does not fully recognise suggesting it does not explain such things. Rusbults Investment model looks at this however and better explains this. Hatfield looked at people who felt over or under-benefited. The under-benefitted felt angry and deprived while the over-benefited felt guilty and uncomfortable.
This supports SET theory by suggesting that regardless of whether individuals benefitted, they do not wish to maintain a relationship which is unfair. Equity Theory may better explain this however and how it may that that theory is better suited to explain such as if, as SET proposes, it is all about profit â€“ then surely when people feel they are over-benefiting they are more inclined to maintain the relationship. Rubin believed that although people are not fundamentally selfish â€“ attitudes towards others are determined to a large extent by how rewarding we think they are for us supporting the theory.
Argyle criticised methodologies that evaluate SET as being contrived and artificial with little relevance to real life relationships. Sedikides claimed that people are capable of being completely unselfish in relationships and do things for others without expecting anything in return â€“ which is most evident in relationships with those emotionally close to us. Sedikides believed that individuals could bolster their partners self-esteem when faced with failures or stress and therefore SETâ€™s theory of humans being out for what they can get is simplistic and inaccurate.
Fromm argued against the theory also arguing that true â€œloveâ€ was about giving as opposed to false love where people expect to have favours returned. Most research has tended to concentrate on short-term consequences of relationships rather than the long-term maintenance and what drives them. This theory may apply to those that keep â€œscoreâ€. Mustein et al devised the exchange orientation tool, identifying such scorekeepers; who are suspicious and insecure suggesting that the theory only suits relationships lacking confidence and mutual trust.
Equity Theory Equity does not mean equality; instead it perceives individuals as motivated to achieve fairness in relationships and to feel dissatisfied with inequity (unfairness). Definitions of equity within a relationship can differ between individuals. Maintenance of relationships occurs through balance and stability. Relationships where individuals put in more than they receive or receive more than they put in are inequitable, leading to dissatisfaction and possible dissolution.
The recognition of inequity within a relationship presents a chance for a relationship to be saved â€“ that is, maintained further by making adjustments so that there is a return to equity. Relationships may alternate between periods of perceived balance and imbalance, with individuals being motivated to return to a state of equity. The greater the perceived imbalance, the greater the efforts to realign the relationship, so long as a chance of doing so is perceived to be viable.
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