Recently a friend of mine got heavily into colour therapy.

“You should wear more yellow,” she told me. “It’ll open up your chakra.”

I scoffed at her and mentally reviewed my wardrobe of greens and blues. “Nope. I’m fine thanks.”

Turns out she was onto something.

I’m not sure what effect yellow has on the chakra, but colours definitely impact our thinking according to a 2009 study by the University of British Columbia (UBC).

UBC researchers discovered that the colour blue boosts our ability to think creatively.


More than 600 volunteers were asked to perform cognitive tasks in the study.

These six tasks were either detail-oriented (proofreading, memory retrieval) or creative (brainstorming).

They were conducted on computer screens that were either white, red or blue.

Red boosted performance on the detail-oriented tasks by as much as 31 per cent when compared with blue.

And performance on the creative tasks doubled when users worked with a blue backdrop.

Author of the study Juliet Zhu, from UBC’s Sauder School of Business, said the results showed how differently people perceive the two colours.

Red is commonly associated with danger and caution, she said, making people more vigilant.

Blue, however, is linked to open sky, the ocean, peace and tranquility – making people feel safe expressing themselves and exploring new ideas.


This has fascinating implications for the way writers work.

Our job is so varied that it requires a number of mental processes.

We have to be fixated on detail as well as remaining inspired, innovative and attentive with language.

So is there an argument for using red while we edit and research, and blue when we’re thinking of ideas and angles?

There’s only one way to find out – I’m going to run my own experiment with myself as a guinea pig.

Feel free to join me!

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