The Color of Training

Lance Sinclair
Contributing Writer
Direct Energy

Recently I purchased a home and was faced with the task of repainting the interior.  I decided to research color so I could make an informed decision on what to paint in the living room, the dining room and beyond.  While I knew intrinsically that color makes a difference in our perceptions, I came across research on the psychology of color and training.  Did you know that there is a part of psychology that studies emotions and reactions of people to certain colors? It is called color psychology and this is what I found.

Color Matters (, confirms that color can improve learning from 55 percent to 78 percent.  It also shows comprehension increases by as much as 73 percent (SH!FT, 2014). Several cognitive studies have documented that colored images leave a stronger impression in the mind than black and white images.

Color can enhance clarity and readability in text by as much as 40 percent for two reasons (SH!FT, 2014). First, when trainers strategically use color in presentations to enhance content, they automatically make concepts easy to comprehend and easy to remember.

Secondly, color makes content more readable. Workbooks, eLearning, or PowerPoint must have contrasting colors in the text and background. (Hint: Use a color wheel for finding contrasting colors).

Research done by Ravi Mehta and Rui (Julia) Zhu at the Sauder School of Business (SH!FT, 2014) has found that using red can boost performance on detail-oriented tasks, such as memory retrieval and attention to detail. However, it is not helpful if you need learners to stay on task and concentrate for extended periods. Blue prompts creative output twice as much as red in tasks such as brainstorming.

People react differently to certain colors and that these colors elicit different emotional states, behaviors, and moods. When considered, it is quite easy to see how trainers can use it for the purposes training. Using colors that are appropriate to a given situation is immensely important to the success as a trainer.

When you are creating and developing your training material, you should keep in mind that the colors you are using are an immensely powerful tool. A certain color combination cannot only improve the overall look and feel, but it can also affect the learner’s mood and behavior. Colors should not be used randomly.

Below you will see some meanings that certain colors correspond with in the North American culture:

Red – excitement, strength, passion, speed, danger

Blue – trust, belonging, freshness

Yellow – warmth, happiness, joy, cowardice

Orange – playfulness, warmth, liveliness

Green – nature, freshness, growth, abundance

Purple – classiness, spirituality, dignity

Pink – gentleness, kindness, safeness

Gold – prestige, luxury

Silver – prestige, coldness

White – moral purity, holiness, innocence, youth, gentleness

Black – sophistication, elegance, mystery

Color Wheel of Emotions source: (aalabels, 2014) 

Our personal and cultural associations affect our experience of color. Colors are perceived as warm or cool mainly because of long-held associations. Warm colors (yellow, orange, red) are associated with the heat of sun and fire.  Cool colors (blue, green, violet) are associated with leaves, sea and the sky. Warm colors seem closer to the viewer than cool colors, but vivid cool colors can overwhelm light and subtle warm colors. Using warm colors for foreground and cool colors for background enhances the perception of depth.

So, I am still in the middle of painting the inside of my home.  I chose a sand color (tan) for the living room and an orange shade for the dining room!  The kitchen is a coral green.  Not sure, what color the master bedroom will be…


Lance Sinclair had 17 years operational experience before joining Direct Energy/Success Academy in 2004. In his current role at Success Academy, he is responsible for the development, design, delivery, and evaluation of training and education for the franchise system consisting of Instructor Led Training, Web Based Training, and Online Self-directed Training. Direct Energy Services is one of North America’s largest home services providers and offers a wide range of services to homes including HVAC, plumbing and electrical services through our service brands of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing®, Mister Sparky® electric, and One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning®.

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