Volume 8, Issue 1 (Iranian Journal of Ergonomics 2020)                   Iran J Ergon 2020, 8(1): 1-11 | Back to browse issues page

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Amani H, Shojaei S H, Zarei H. Color and Its Impact on People in the Workplace: A Systematic Review Article. Iran J Ergon. 2020; 8 (1) :1-11
URL: http://journal.iehfs.ir/article-1-697-en.html
MSc Student, Department of Occupational Health Engineering, School of Health, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran , Zarei.hi@ajums.ac.ir
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From among the four simulated scenarios, the fourth one, which is the increase in staff welfare parameters, had the most impact on reducing the burnout of Ardabil Regional Water Company employees.

Extended Abstract:   (312 Views)

A good work environment should be a space where one feels relaxed and focused. Therefore, it is better to know the basic principles of interior designing of a suitable office before doing anything. Painting doors and walls, tools and equipment in the workplace with special colors, increases the efficiency of the person in the environment. Therefore, we must design work environments in such a way that it is an attractive, relaxing environment for employees and workers, and free from any stress. Therefore, color is one of the elements that play an important role in interior designing, especially in the workplace (1).
In the field of environmental psychology, color is discussed as another environmental factor that has a great impact on human perception and behavior. People are stimulated by the feeling of warm colors and calm down by cold colors. Scientific researches have shown that colors not only affect the human psyche but also cause changes in performance, creativity and productivity to a greater or lesser extent. Workplace color can affect physiological responses such as heart rate as well as human anxiety and comfort (2,3).
Individual color preference is associated with an emotional response to the environment as well as behavior in that environment. Therefore, understanding how color affects human perception and behavior is essential to creating an efficient work environment. In different studies, different aspects of the effect of different colors on human perception and behavior and finally the work environment in order to achieve greater productivity have been studied. Therefore, the aim of this study is to collect various studies on the effect of color on the work environment and present them in the form of a systematic review study. 


Materials and Methods

Data collection was performed using articles published in PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Google Scholar databases. Electronic search of studies without time limit was done using the keywords Color perception, color ergonomics, color psychology, color effect, mental health and Workplace in the field of psychology, social sciences, architecture and ergonomics in the titles of articles. There are studies that have reported the effects of colors in the workplace. Using the above keywords, a total of 262 articles were obtained. Criteria for selecting articles in this study included the originality of the work, the English language, and considering at least one of the various dimensions of the effect of color on humans (perception or behavior) whose text is accessible. Exclusion criteria included: review articles, interventional, qualitative, studies without specific color intervention and without results, studies without focus on color and workplace design, descriptive literature, studies without measuring tools and non-English articles. Finally, after removing duplicate articles, 45 articles were studied from 1990 to 2019 and were carefully analyzed by the research team and the desired information was extracted from them and entered into the prepared database. The information extracted at this stage includes the year and name of the authors, study design, materials and methods, participants, color samples and evaluations.



Initially, 262 articles were identified from various databases. Among them, 93 articles met the inclusion criteria. After that, 48 articles were excluded from the study due to lack of experimental studies and 45 articles were selected for final review. All articles are summarized in Table 1. Most studies have been done in the western regions. Most studies have focused on the study of warm colors versus cold colors. Warm colors were usually red, orange, yellow, and cold colors were often blue and green. Evidence from 45 studies showed that the color of the work environment in three groups of mood and emotions, physiology and well-being and work-related outcomes have significant effects on humans that can be categorized as follows:
1- Color priority: A total of 18 studies have examined color priority. Most of the articles reviewed were intercultural studies.
2. Mood and Emotions: A total of 25 studies focused on mood and emotions. Most studies used a subjective measure of mood, such as The Multiple Affect Adjective Check List (MAACL), PAD (pleasure, stimulation, and mastery).
3- Physiology and well-being: A total of 6 studies focused on health outcomes using physiological measurements. These measurements include an electroencephalogram (EEG) and an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to measure brain activity and heart rate change.
4. Work-related outcomes: In the reviewed articles, 19 studies focused on the effect of workplace color on work-related outcomes, which can be divided into the following main topics:
4.1 Performance: A total of 12 color and color performance studies were performed, all of which were performed in a laboratory setting.
4.2 Productivity: Four studies reported the effect of workplace color on human productivity.
4-3-Creativity: Four studies showed that the color of the workplace has an effect on creativity.


A total of 18 studies examined color priority. Consistently and in most studies, blue and green were the most popular colors (3: 7-11). However, color priority is not universal (12) and is influenced by differences in age, gender, cultural aspect (13-15), background and experience (16). In the workplace, the priority of colors can affect workers' morale, well-being and performance (7, 10). White is the preferred neutral color (10) and workers prefer to work in a white environment (17, 18).
A total of 25 studies focused on mood and emotions. Emotional responses to color are related to the meaning of colors. Green evokes the most positive emotional responses and is associated with calmness and happiness (19, 20). An intercultural study reported a positive emotional state when working in a colorful environment. A good color scheme increases the overall mood of the worker (21-23). Outdoor blue is more positive than red (24) but other studies have reported that blue is less attractive than red (26, 25) and can also be considered as a cause of depression (27). The red environment can be considered as an irritating and disturbing factor (3, 17). White walls tend to cause fatigue and apathy (28).
A total of 6 studies focused on health outcomes using physiological measurements. Some colors have a greater effect on heart rate than others (29). Working in a red or colorful room with visual sophistication, puts the brain in a state of excitement that slows the heart rate and overloads. Blue has been reported to have an effect on fatigue and drowsiness (4). Appropriate color combinations in the workplace can have a positive effect on visual work capacity and increase comfort (30). Perception and experience in blue and green space is associated with a sense of well-being.
In the reviewed articles, 19 studies focused on the effect of workplace color on work-related outcomes. Of these 19 studies, 12 studies examined color and color performance, all of which were performed in a laboratory setting. A colorful workplace increases performance more than a workplace with an achromatic design (30). Various studies have reported that working in a white environment has led to the highest error (17, 18). It has also been reported that red has negative and positive effects (4, 18, 31, 32). The level of performance depends on the type and demand of work (24, 27, 33). Red enhances cognitive performance, while working in a blue area enhances creative performance (1).
Four studies reported the effect of workplace color on human productivity. Neutral colors, cool blue colors (7) as well as the balance between warm and cold colors can increase productivity. In contrast, in a study by Poursafar et al., it was reported that cool colors in the field of office architecture reduce productivity (10). One study in a real-life situation reported no effect of color on perceived productivity (34).
Four studies also showed that workplace color has an effect on creativity. Cool colors have a significant negative effect on creativity potential (35). In contrast, Ceylan et al. (2008) reported that attractive colors in the workplace increase creativity and support managers to think and generate ideas (36). The positive effects may be due to the fact that calm colors are soothing, while warm colors are too irritating and make it difficult for people to focus on the subject.
In general, workplace color has a significant effect on mood, physiology and well-being and work-related outcomes. Both consistent and inconsistent results were found. Individual differences in culture, gender, age, and background may affect color perception and color preference in the workplace. Studies with students in a hypothetical laboratory environment may not be comparable to experiences in the real workplace. In addition, existing research focuses on an almost limited number of colors, mainly red, blue, and green. There is very little research that has examined the combination of colors that may be more relevant to the color of the workplace in a real everyday work environment.



According to the findings of the study, it was proved that color in the workplace has an important role in human perception and behavior, especially mood, well-being and performance. Using color in the workplace can boost your positive mood, help you feel better and lead to a positive outcome. Knowing how to maximize the effect of color differences in the workplace is essential to human beings. It should be noted that more research is needed to examine the factors of color combination, context of the workplace, factors between culture and individual differences.


The authors are grateful to all those who assisted in the writing of this article.


Conflicts of Interest

The authors declared no conflict of interest.


Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special
Received: 2020/02/20 | Accepted: 2020/05/18 | ePublished: 2020/06/6

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