RED NCS range Y80R till R20B





  • Origins of the colour name ‘red’

    The Colour name Red stems from Old Norse rót (“root”), from Proto-Germanic *wrōts, from Proto-Indo-European *wréh₂ds (“root”); compare with English wort and the Latin rādīx (“root”). Cognate with the Icelandic rót; Old English rōt (whence the Middle English word root (“the underground part of a plant”) came, whence the English root came). (Source:

    Ród Smoka (the bloodline of the dragon) film poster for HBO-serie.

    A similarity with the god Ród in Slavic mythology, who means clan, bloodline and family-tree (red-on-black), is striking (Vyncke, 1969). Metaphorically he is a manifestation of the roots (black-0) of the blood (red-7), the bloodline (red-on-black), the pedigree. As such, the name red may have emerged from the colour of blood.

    (Michiels, I., red.)

  • The red circle in the earthly paradise
    Creation and the expulsion from the paradise by Giovanni di Paolo (1403–1482) 

    The circle represents the concept of paradise in cross-cultural imagery. There is a link with the womb of mother earth. According to Campbell (1991) “The state of the child in the womb is one of bliss and may be compared to the beatitude visualized for paradise”. Humankind originates from the earthly womb and returns to it after death, thus forming a conceptual loop or circle of life. The word ‘paradise’ is of old Persian origin. It means an enclosure, and especially a royal park or hunting ground, a piece of land made more agreeable than its surroundings by cultivation (Encyclopedia of world religions, 1975). The enclosure has the shape of a perfect circle, representing the eternal wheel of life and death. This circle can also be retrieved on a smaller scale in the apple from the tree of life, in the red or orange coloured rounded fruits in the green garden of Eden. In the beginning the earthly paradise was an island, or a mountain, or both, located on earth. Gradually the good place was transferred to the sky, to an enclosed space in the clouds.

    The early Sumerian temple tower was the ziggurat, the pivotal point in the centre of the sacred circle of space, where the earthly and heavenly powers joined. The hieratically organized little city surrounding it, where everyone played his role according to the rules of a celestially inspired Devine game, supplied the model of paradise that we find, centuries later, in the Hindu-Buddhist imagery of the world mountain, Sumeru, whose jewelled slopes, facing the four directions, rose from the midpoint of the earth as the vertical axis of the egg-shaped universe. It was the model also of the Greek Olympus, the Aztec temples of the sun, and Dante’s holy mountain of Purgatory, bearing on its summit the Earthly Paradise. (Campbell, 1991)

    Life in this earthly paradise is instinctively innocent, with the Gods as close companions. Cross-culturally is the wide-spread idea of a definite place, an ‘otherwhere’ or even ‘otherworld’, which is part of the universe we know, yet different in quality from the part we live in: a good place, blessed and happy. Also, there are many legends of a lost Golden Age. Long ago, human beings were carefree and guiltless. They were immortal, lived without sickness in a kindly climate, and never had to work hard. The Golden Age dream of freedom from the curse of death is recurrent. Life of those who lived in paradise was an enhancement of earthly life with music, sexual fulfilment, and many more pleasures of the same type, and with no pain or care. (Encyclopedia of world religions, 1975)

    Mandala of Vishnu, Painting; Pata/Paubha, Mineral pigments on cotton cloth, 28 3/8 x 23 3/8 in. (72.07 x 59.37 cm) Made in: Nepal From the Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Museum Associates Purchase (M.77.19.5)

    Inez Michiels, red.

  • ‘Protection’ and colour in Germany

    Protection: brown 24%, red 18%, pink 15%, … (Heller, 1989)

  • Colour genes

    Opsins (protein molecules which serve as visual pigments sitting in the cones and rods) are made under the influence of genes. DNA differences result in opsins that are sensitive to different colours. Since all genes are present in all cells, the difference between a red cone and a blue cone is not which genes they possess, but which gene they turn on.

    The genes that make our green and red opsins are very similar to each other, and they are on the X chromosome (the sex chromosome of which females have two copies and males only one). The gene that makes the blue opsin is a bit different, and lies not on a sex chromosome but on one of the ordinary non-sex chromosomes called autosomes. Our green and red cells have clearly been derived from a recent gene duplication event, and much longer ago they must have diverged from the blue opsin gene in another duplication event.

    Dawkins (2004).

  • ‘Extrovert’ and colour in Germany

    Extrovert: yellow 24%, gold 24%, orange 19%, red 14%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Erotica’ and colour in Germany

    Erotica: red 63%, pink 12%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Energy’ and colour in Germany

    Energy: red 38%, orange 18%, yellow 16%, gold 7%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Dynamics’ and colour in Germany

    Dynamics: red 25%, blue 20%, orange 13%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Desire’ and colour in Germany

    Desire: red 34%, orange 13%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Danger’ and colour in Germany

    Danger: red 43%, black 24%, orange 12%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Close proximity’ and colour in Germany

    Close proximity: red 29%, orange 15%, pink 12%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Bigotry’ and colour in Germany

    Bigotry: pink 38%, red 14%, purple 10%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Arousal, excitement’ and colour in Germany

    Arousal, excitement: red 33%, orange 20%, yellow 13%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Anger’ and colour in Germany

    Anger: red 55%, black 15%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Agressivity’ and colour in Germany

    Agressivity: red 50%, black 10%, yellow 10%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • ‘Activity’ and colour in Germany

    Activity: red 28%, orange 18%, yellow 15%, …
    Heller (1989)

  • The colour of ‘dangerous’ in 9 countries


    All countries: red.
    Jung et al. (2018)

  • ‘Sportsmanship’ and colour in Germany

    Sportsmanship: blue 34%, red 17%, white 12%, …
    Heller E. (1989)

  • ‘Achievement’ and colour in Germany

    Achievement: blue 20%, gold 18%, red 15%, …
    Heller E. (1989)

  • ‘Masculinity’ and colour in Germany

    Masculinity: blue 35%, black 20%, brown 13%, …
    In modern symbolism, blue is the colour of masculinity. The old colour of masculinity is red. The cold, passion-free virtues are part of the male appearance of blue.
    (Heller, 1989)

  • ‘Sympathy’ and colour in Germany

    Sympathy: blue 28%, red 17%, green 16%, …
    Heller E. (1989)

  • Extrovert people colour preference

    Extrovert people seem to have a preference for red, orange and yellow.
    Heller E. (1989)

  • Distances and colours

    We connect distances with colours because colours change through distance. Red is only bright when it is close. The further away, the more bluish it becomes.
    Heller E. (1989)

  • Cold and warm colours

    The distinction between cold and warm colours is very old, rooted in the language about colours (Berlin & Kay, 1969) and is perceptually important. Psychological research at the University of Padua into the cold / warm qualities of colours shows that the subjective colour temperature experience changes abruptly when the limit of the hue values ​​above 120° in the CIELAB colour system has been exceeded. The same sudden change occurs around 330° (da Pos & Valenti, 2007). A clear correlation has been established between cold / warm and hue values ​​(Jin, Eun & You, 2003). This agreement also appears to work cross-culturally (Sato, Xin & Hansuebsai, 2003). The cold / warm contrast is related to the perceived light in a landscape. The “warm” colours are associated with daylight or sunset, and the “cold” colours associated with a gray or dark day. Warm colours are the shades of red-violet to yellow, cool colours are the shades that run from blue-green through blue-violet.

  • Colour weight on the lightness axis

    Black and white are the most extreme examples of heavy and lightweight colours. The movement is in the height. Heavy colours, when applied above the viewer, tend to press down. Because of their heaviness, the weight is literally felt. A black ceiling will be estimated lower than a white one. Heavy is also connected to hard and large, while lightweight is felt rather fine, small and soft (Osgood, 1957). If colours have the same intensity such as red and green, red will outweigh green. (Meerwein, 2007)

  • Lüscher’s active and passive colours

    The psychologist Lüscher (1969) uses the parameter active/passive in his well-known colour test. The active colours are then yellow and red, the passive blue and green. Passivity means rest and the general decline of metabolic processes and glandular function. Activity accelerates the metabolic process and gland function increases. Primitive peoples showed a number of basic behaviours. The active primitive man was a hunter, his activity was focused on conquest and obtaining. A passive behaviour was self-preservation, defence, withdrawal.
    (Lüscher & Scott, 1969).

  • Warm and cold colours, cultural differences

    Culturally, small variations in the choice of warm and cold colours have been identified. In the Thai survey (Sato, Xin & Hansuebsai, 2003), the cold shades are slightly cooler than the Japanese ones. The Thai warmest colour is a warm orange (red-orange) and the coldest colour a bluish green. The border colours between warm and cold, eg. the transitional nuances between yellow and green gave rise to unclear results.

  • Unique hue

    Colour naming, unique hues, and hue cancellation predicted from singularities in reflection properties. Mean research results: Unique yellow: 577nm; Unique red: 715nm; Unique Blue: 474nm; Unique green: 529nm. (Philipona & O’Regan, 2006)

  • Colour and aggressive sexual offences

    Above average red scores have been found in men who have committed aggressive sexual offences (Siedow, 1958), while high yellow scores have been found in high performers and goal directed subjects. Thus preference for red seems to be associated with uncontrolled acting out behavior, while preference for yellow goes along with out-going but well-controlled modes of expression.
    (Schaie, K. W., 1966)

  • Red and cognitive performance

    Stone’s (2003) findings indicate that the colour red increased individuals’ levels of arousal, which when paired with a stimulating task, caused deficits in cognitive performance.
    (Lange, Testing & Rentfrow, 2007)

  • Enhancing performance with colours

    We demonstrate that red (versus blue) colour induces primarily an avoidance (versus approach) motivation (study 1, n = 69) and that red enhances performance on a detail-oriented task, whereas blue enhances performance on a creative task (studies 2 and 3, n = 208 and 118). Further, we replicate these results in the domains of product design (study 4, n = 42) and persuasive message evaluation (study 5, n = 161) and show that these effects occur outside of individuals’ consciousness (study 6, n = 68). We also provide process evidence suggesting that the activation of alternative motivations mediates the effect of colour on cognitive task performances. The data revealed that significantly more participants chose the blue (66%) versus red (34%) colour when the task was described to be creative. Results from this research suggest that, depending on the nature of the task, different colours might be beneficial. If the task on hand requires people’s vigilant attention (e.g., memorizing important information or understanding the side effects of a new drug), then red (or another colour that activates an avoidance motivation) might be particularly appropriate. However, if the task calls for creativity and imagination (e.g., designing an art shop, or a new product idea brainstorming session), then blue (or another colour that activates an approach motivation) would be more beneficial.
    (Mehta & Zhu, 2009)

  • Colours and arousal value

    It has been noted that the colours on the red end of the spectrum (red, yellow) have high arousal value while those at the blue end (blue, green) have low arousal value.
    (Schaie, K. W., 1966)