affective design

Exploring Emotional Design

How the colour of jail cells affects inmates’ emotions

CourtTV has an article about how painting jails pink can calm aggravated inmates… “Drunk-tank pink” as it’s called, has been used to soothe the emotions of inmates in correctional facilities in other parts of North America as well. It’s just one example of how colour can directly influence the arousal or anxiety dimension of emotional state. Calming inmates leads to less violence in prisons and lowers costs, as well as improving safety for both inmates and guards.

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    1. Steve Portigal November 14th, 2006 8:37 am

      Without any ability to cite references, I had long thought that these effects were well documented and made their way into school paint schemes (for one example) as far back as the 70s, but they were later found to have effectiveness only for a certain time, that people become accustomed to the “new” color and behavior returns to whatever it was before. Sounds perfect to use this effect for a short-term situation like the drunk-tank, though.

    2. trevvg November 14th, 2006 10:19 am

      You bring up a good point. The effects of colour on emotional affect can and do change over time. Some of this may be the “novelty factor”. Colours can be attractive and interesting at first (my indigo blue iMac comes to mind), but then be barely noticed as time goes on. But is this simply a lack of novelty, or do colours in some environments lose their overt ability to alter emotional states simply because they are no longer novel enough to command our attention?

    3. melissa January 22nd, 2007 12:11 pm

      well i’m doing a jr. high science fair project like this with plants and this really helped me. so thank you a lot. keep up the good work.

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