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Complementary Colour Psychology

Our personal and cultural associations can affect our experience of colour profoundly, giving rise to psychological associations of colour that are often more meaningful than the visual experience. Colours also act upon the body as well as the mind e.g. red has been shown to stimulate the senses and raise the blood pressure, while blue has the opposite effect and calms the mind. The outcome of these associations is that the effect of colour on our mind and senses does not necessarily equate with colour terminology - red and green are complementary colours, but we feel and associate red and blue as a bigger contrast.

Psychological complementary colours are those colour joins which symbolise the biggest contrast with respect to how we perceive colour with our minds and feelings. This contrast of understandings and feelings is primary chosen and understood as well in the colour symbolism.

Psychological complementary colours cannot co-exist next to each other, because one colour characteristic cannot stand for two opposing things. If complementary colours are being used together they draw attention to this contrast in colour symbolism.

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The Colour Psychology Table

Here are some colour combinations listed with some possible interpretations:

Psychological Complementary Colours Symbolic Contrast
  • Black - Pink
  • Strong - weak
  • Rough - tender
  • Hard - soft
  • Insensitive - sensitive
  • Precise - imprecise
  • Big - small
  • Masculine - female
  • Black - White
  • Purity - Evil
  • End - beginning
  • Blue - Brown
  • Spiritual - earthly
  • Noble - common
  • Ideal - real
  • Gold - Grey
  • Pure - not pure
  • Gold - Brown
  • Expensive - cheap
  • Extraordinary - ordinary
  • Green - Black
  • Life - Death
  • Hope - End
  • Young - Old
  • Green - Violet
  • Natural - unnatural
  • Realistic - magical
  • Red - Blue
  • Active - passive
  • Hot - cold
  • Loud - quite
  • Physical - spiritual
  • Masculine - feminine
  • Red - Black
  • Passion - Depression
  • Love - Violence
  • Debt - Credit
  • Red - White
  • Strong - weak
  • Fullness - emptiness
  • Passionate - frigid
  • Devil - Purity/Innocence
  • Violence/War - truce/peace
  • Lie - truth
  • Orange - Grey
  • Noticeable - secretive
  • Orange - white
  • Colourful - colourless
  • Boastful - modest
  • Silver- Yellow
  • Cold - warm
  • Discrete - showy
  • White - Brown
  • Clean - dirty
  • Clear - dull
  • Clear - muddy

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