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

well-being.


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.

ISBN 0-442-20787-5. 

    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.


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