The Wright Theory

A Theory of Colour Psychology and Colour Harmony
Angela Wright FRSA.


This paper sets out a number of ideas that combine to make a unified theory of colour psychology and colour harmony. It posits the existence of patterns within the visual spectrum that are reflected in patterns of human behaviour. The theory resulted from exploration of the following questions:

  • How does colour influence mood and behaviour?
  • Why do individuals have different aesthetic responses to the same colour?
  • What affective differences are there between different versions of the same spectral hue?
  • Are there any universally attractive colours?

The answers to these questions suggest that we are all affected by colour psychologically. They suggest that each hue affects specific psychological modes, thereby influencing mood and behaviour in the observer. These effects are unaffected by culture, gender or age and are therefore predictable. They also show that all colours can be classified into one of four groups. The group a colour is in determines how it will affect a psychological mode. Furthermore, there are mathematical relationships between the shades, tints and tones within these groups, not shared with those from other groups. These four groups hold the key to universal colour harmony; colours from the same group will always harmonise, whereas those from different groups never will.

With regard to colour preference, this theory puts forward the idea that humanity too can be divided into four psychological groups that correspond to the four colour groups. People in these groups share certain psychological and physical characteristics. Possibly because of these shared psychological characteristics, they also share aesthetic responses to colour. This is important when it comes to answering the question of whether there are universally attractive colours. This theory suggests that there are not, but that all colours from a colour group will be attractive to all members of its corresponding psychological group. This means that once a personís group is established, their colour preferences can be predicted. Furthermore, all colours from a colour group have an innate harmony to which everyone responds positively.

However, it is important to draw the distinction between harmony and preference. Anyone will find a palette devised in accordance with this theory harmonious, and it will appeal to the same psychological mode regardless of their psychological group. But they will find a palette drawn from their corresponding colour group more attractive than one drawn from any other.

Therefore the principal tenets of this theory are as follows:

  1. Each hue affects distinct psychological modes
  2. The psychological effects of colour are universal.
  3. Every shade, tone or tint can be classified into one of four colour groups.
  4. Every colour will harmonise with every other colour in the same group.
  5. All humanity can be classified into one of four personality types.
  6. Each personality type has a natural affinity with one colour group.
  7. Response to colour schemes is influenced by personality type.

Expansions of these five points form the basis of this paper. For a copy of the full theory, click contact us