Colors affect our memories every day and throughout our lives, and are used both intentionally and subliminally by educators and even marketing companies. Scientific testing has found that certain colors are more stimulating, which enhances memory. This stimulation can be both negative and positive, affecting how you’re distracted, what you can recall and what initially attracts your attention.
White paper has been found to negatively affect the reading ability for those diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that makes it difficult to read text, regardless of intelligence levels. This, in turn, affects your ability to remember what you read. White paper tends to “glare” and make printed text appear as if it’s moving. This is remedied by wearing glasses that are tinted a different color or by using a colored plastic, transparent slip over the paper.
Cool colors, such as blue and green, are less stimulating and more relaxing. Flash cards or study notes provided on paper in these colors have been found to be less effective because of their calming effects. However, cool colors have been found to stimulate creativity.
Warm colors, such as red and yellow, are more stimulating and therefore, more memorable. Our minds automatically respond to these colors because they are more noticeable, and even help improve the ability to recall facts, if presented in vivid warm colors.
Black and White vs. Color
Many scientific studies have been conducted to test if black and white images are more memorable than color images. It was determined that people responded greater to naturally colored images — such as a snapshot photo — than to an image artificially colored or to a black and white image.
References and ResourcesTel Aviv University; Dyslexia; Yedida Heymans; 1997
Direct Learning LTD.; Reading Through Colored Filters
UW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research: The Effects of Color on Memory; Lynnay Huchendorf; 2007
Yenra; Color Psychology Memory Affect : We Remember Scenes...
"The New York Times": Reinvent Wheel? Blue Room. Defusing a Bomb? Red Room; Pam Belluck; Feb 2009
University of Massachusetts: The Interactive Effects of Colors...; Dae-Young Kim; 2010