Blue Or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Performance

Ravi P. Mehta, University of British Columbia, Canada
Rui Juliet Zhu, University of British Columbia, Canada
Existing research reports inconsistent findings with regards to the effect of color on performance in cognitive tasks. While some research suggests that cool colors (i.e., blue/green) lead to better performances than warm colors (i.e., red), others record the opposite. We reconcile this discrepancy by demonstrating that different colors can activate alternative regulatory focus and consequently enhance performances on different types of cognitive tasks. Specifically, we show that while red induces a prevention focus and consequently enhances performance on detail-oriented tasks, blue activates a promotion focus and thus enhances performance on creative tasks. Implications for consumer behavior are demonstrated.
[ to cite ]:
Ravi P. Mehta and Rui Juliet Zhu (2009) ,"Blue Or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Performance", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1045-1046.