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Can we use colour to influence and improve performance? The impacts of colour on performance has been an area of interest across a number of professions for many years including elite athletes, scientists, advertisers, marketers and designers. More recently however colour and performance has become the subject of more extensive research particularly in schools. If you are considering an outdoor classroom or are just taking learning outside regularly, we consider how colour can be best utilised to enhance performance outdoors.
There have been a number of studies on the influence of colour on learning and the ability to succeed. In 2009 a study in the Science magazine, outlined the performance of 600 participants in relation to the impacts of red and blue on their learning outcomes. The study asked participants to complete tasks on a computer against red, blue or neutral backgrounds and looked at the results to see if they could see any correlation of colour on performance. They found overall that red backgrounds had a tendency to make people more accurate and detailed whilst blue backgrounds supported more creativity in approach to the tasks at hand.
In a different smaller study involving 71 students, those who were given a participant number that was red, as opposed to green or black, 5 minutes before they undertook an exam, scored on average 20% lower than those that were given participant numbers in the other colours. One theory for this finding was that association of red with danger and fear of failure. For elite athletes on the other hand, who engage in physical and mental pursuits, the association of red with dominance and winning has been the finding of much research.
Why colours have an impact on certain people and less so on others is not yet understood but some experts suggest colours affect performance because of the mood they convey or are associated with. It is worth remembering however that colours have different connotations in different cultures, and individual preference alongside the influence of personal, cultural and situational factors can also heavily influence the impact of colour on an individual’s outcome.
That said if you are considering an outdoor classroom or simply love to make use of the outdoors for learning for cognitive or physical tasks, consider how you can use colour stimulus to enhance performance and learning in your selected space. Warm colours like orange and red may increase alertness and motivation but also too much may create anxiety and overstimulation and thus inhibit creativity. Splashes of blue, green and yellow can help keep students calm, focussed and ready to learn. Always strive to achieve balance when designing learning spaces.
At Felton we are proud to have brought colour to our outdoor furniture range through our patented coloured safety end caps, powder-coating options and our popular colourful park pedestal settings. In each instance you can choose from a range of six exciting colours to create the perfect colour-blended outdoor space to encourage high performance whatever your chosen outdoor activity.