HUMAN RESPONSE TO COLOR: GENERAL
30. Babbitt, Edwin D. The Principles of Light and Color. Edited by Faber
Birren. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1967. 271 pp. B/W
illus., color illus.
Originally published in 1878, this work, Birren contends, was
seminal in the field of color therapy. Babbit’s ideas differed radically from
accepted scientific thought of his time. Although his theories about the
beneficial health effects of color and light created a furor in medical circles,
his assertions of the healing power of substances based solely on their color
led some people to call him a miracle man. While the validity of Babbit’s
theories is questionable, Birren points out that the scientific community has
in more recent times come to recognize the relationship between
environment, including color and light, and a sense of physical or emotional
31. Berlin, Brent and Paul Kay. Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and
Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. 178 pp.
Index, bibl., endnotes/footnotes, B/W illus. ISBN 520-01442-1.
The authors present an analysis and comparison of terms for color in
20 languages, and report that semantic universals in color vocabulary relate
to the historical development of all those languages. A total of 11 basic
color categories are universal: white, black, red, green, yellow, blue,
brown, purple, pink, orange, and gray. When a language has fewer than
eleven basic categories, the terms in use follow strict limitations. Detailed
information is provided on how different cultures describe or perceive
color. Anyone interested in a cross-cultural look at the language of color
will find this a useful starting point.
32. Birren, Faber. Color and Human Response. New York: Van
Nostrand Reinhold, 1978. 141 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus., color illus.
Among the best of Birren’s many books on color, this volume
includes a very general summary of relevant research and writing. The
biological, visual, emotional, aesthetic, and psychic responses of human
beings to color and light are presented. The strength of this book is
Birren’s ability to synthesize varied information on color, including the
meaning of colors to different cultures, historical meanings of color, the
healing effects of colors, and the meanings of personal color preferences
Unfortunately, the chapter on the meaning of personal color preference is
undocumented, however the extensive bibliography identities some sources
for further study.
33. Birren, Faber. Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of
the Influence of Color on Human Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950.
284 pp. Index, bibl., B/W illus.
In this early work on the pseudoscientific and pseudomedical issue
of color therapy, Birren brings together the research data on this subject and
appeals to the scientific and medical communities to abandon old prejudices
and give the beneficial effects of color a fair appraisal. A historical review
of color mysticism and symbolism is followed by information on the
biological, psychological and visual aspects of color. Birren includes a
bibliography of significant works on therapeutic and psychological aspects
of color but does not provide specific documentation throughout the text.
34. Bopst, Harlan. Color and Personality. New York: Vantage, 1962. 99 pp.
This book is an expression of the writer’s beliefs on color. Among
the topics are color and personality, the language of color, apparent and real
color, and color associations. The researcher compiling popularly written
material on color associations may find this book of interest.
35. Clark, Linda. The Ancient Art of Color Therapy: Updated, Including Gem
Therapy, Auras, and Amulets. Old Greenich, CT: Devin-Adair, 1975. 245
pp. Bibl. ISBN 0-8159-5206-6.
The author recommends methodologies for color therapy, physical
health, nutrition, and eye problems The publisher’s preface defines color
therapy as “using color to influence human health” and notes that it is
considered a category of “fringe medicine.” Stating that the FDA is
inappropriately intolerant in its views on this form of “preventative
medicine,” the book asks readers to read between the lines and exercise their
imaginations whenever possible since how-to information cannot be
provided without subjecting the author to prosecution or harassment. Faber
Birren and Edwin Babbit are frequently cited throughout the text. The
bibliography may compensate somewhat for a lack of documentation.
However, most readers will find this book no more than a curiosity.
36. Frieling, Heinrich. The Color Mirror: The Quicktest for Character Diagnosis
with the Colors of the Frieling- Test. Giittingen: Musterschmidt, 1975. 56
pp. Color illus. ISBN 3-7881-4035-6.
Heinrich Friehling, a German authority on color known for his 12
books and numerous articles on color psychology, presents a popular
version of the scientific Friehling color test (1961) in his only book
available in English. Directions are given for selecting the single most liked
color and single most disliked color out of 23 provided samples and for
grouping four colors together, along with fascinating interpretive material
related to personality. By comparison, the reader ranks eight colors singly
according to personal preference in the better known Liischer color test
(1948). The serious student of color psychology will want to examine a 1
more typical Friehling work such as Das Gesetz der Farbe (1979), which
has a broad scope and an extensive bibliography that reviews the
international color literature.
37. Luckiesh, Matthew. Color and Colors. New York: D. Van Nostrand,
1938. 206 pp. Index.
The domain of this book is “the effectiveness of light and color” on
human response. The author is especially concerned with “color play” or
the mutual influence colors have on one another, better known now as
simultaneous contrast. He also describes a condition he calls “mental color-
blindness” as “a consciousness closed to the variety of interests obtainable
from color.” Within this framework, Luckiesh gathers an unusual
collection of ideas including color symbolism, color in the workplace, and
poems with color images. This undocumented book is particularly
interesting as an excursion into the domain of emotional responses to color,
which may seem atypical for an author who is a physicist.
38. Luckiesh, Matthew. The Language of Color. New York: Dodd Meade,
1918. 282 pp. Bibl.
Although Luckiesh, a physicist, contends that color science provides
the foundation for color application in the arts, he advocates a future art
form “purely or predominantly of color” that bridges science and art. Since
color has the ability to elicit direct human response, he believes there is a
“language of color.” In an effort to find that language, he reviews
mythology, color associations, and color in nature, language, literature,
painting, religion, and theater. Symbolic uses of various colors are cited as
evidence of the historic impact of color on individuals. Considerable
attention is also given to the development of color nomenclature, color
preference, and response to color. Discussions of aesthetics, harmony,
color usage, and color-music conclude the book. Although dated, this book
and its brief bibliography offer an interesting historic perspective.
39. Lüscher, Max. The 4-Color Person. New York: Simon and Schuster,
1977. 192 pp. Index, B/W illus., color illus. ISBN 0-671-24232-6.
In this work for the general reader, Lüscher describes four dominant
feelings of self that correspond to the four colors red, green, blue, and I
yellow, provides color disks for determining personality types, and states
probable reactions and behavior patterns. He makes the dubious claim that
“every specific color inspires not only the same perceptional stimulus, but
also exactly the same experiential stimulus in every single individual.” For
example, red is found to be stimulating whereas blue is relaxing. He adds
that what is individual is the person’s feeling toward a color, which may be
like, dislike, or indifference. He claims that thousands of subjects around
the globe have taken his test, but he does not address or document gender
differences, multicultural, or non-European populations. The publishers
suggest that this guide is also “entertaining enough to be a parlor game.” Its
value may be as a historic document of color testing efforts.
40. Lüscher, Max. The Lüscher Color Test. Translated by Ian A. Scott. New
York: Random House, 1969. 185 pp. Appendices, color illus.
This is a shortened version of a color test developed by the author, a
Swiss psychologist, who claims it has found wide clinical acceptance as a
diagnostic tool since it was introduced in 1948. Samples of the four
psychological primaries -- blue, yellow, red and green -- and four auxiliary
colors are used to determine personal color preferences through an
individual’s choosing and sequencing of the eight colors. Interpretation
tables are furnished. Since the colors are presented for choice without the
need to consider a second color that will harmonize with it, the test is said to
determine personal color preferences. An introductory chapter on the origin
of color significance and central chapters on the meaning of the eight colors
and the structural meaning of color pairs provide a general context.
Discussions of non-European or multicultural populations and of gender
differences are lacking. Lüscher’s work may be useful in comparison with
the opinions expressed by Faber Birren, Eric Danger, and Carlton Wagner,
and writers of popular books on color.
41. Portmann, Adolf, et al. Color Symbolism: Six Excerpts from the Eranos
Yearbook 1972. Dallas: Spring Publications, 1977. 202 pp. Index,
endnotes/footnotes. ISBN 0-88214-400-6.
The role of color in the ancient and modem world, in both Eastern
and Western civilizations, is examined in six papers from The Realms of
Color, the Eranos Yearbook. Adolf Portmann looks at color sense and
meaning from the viewpoint of a biologist. Christopher Rowe discusses
color concepts and symbolism in the ancient world. Black African color
symbolism is described by Dominique Zohan. The Christian visionary
experience and color is reviewed by Ernst Benz. Rene Huyghe looks at
Westem art and the changing role played by color. Finally, Toshihiko
Izutsu explains the negative attitude toward color in the Far East. The very
specific information on color symbolism and color preferences provided
may strike some readers as esoteric, but others will see applications for
educators and professionals interested in color and culture.