BUILDING BLOCK dimensional to 8-level


‘Cold /coolness’ and colour in Germany

Cold: blue 47%, white 23%, grey 14%, …
The coolness: blue 46%, silver 14%, white 13%, …

Heller E. (1989)

‘The coolness’ and colour in Germany

The coolness: blue 46%, silver 14%, white 13%, …
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 temperature terminology

The terms inward/outward are better suited to indicate the cold/warm colour quality when addressing the depth dimension parameter.

  • Inner colours are blue, black, green and purple
  • Outer colours are orange, red, white and yellow

In the breadth dimension the terms cool/hot represent a different aspect of colour temperature and is limited to green (coolest colour) and red (hottest colour).

Heat, weight and activity in multicolored images
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is temp-weight-activity2.jpg

The findings of this study show that people in general perceive color emotions for multicoloured images in similar ways, and that observer judgments highly correlate with the predictive model recently proposed in image retrieval. Images were judged by observers on three emotion factors: heat, weight, and activity. Interobserver agreement obtained for the heat factor are 0.099, 0.079 for weight, and 0.160 for activity. Comparing the results with other studies involving single colors or two-color combinations shows that the agreement is good, especially for heat and weight. (Solli & Lenz, 2011)

Temperature and colour wavelength

A clear correlation has been established between a feeling of temperature and the wavelength of a colour. Psychological research shows that the subjective experience of colour temperature changes abruptly to cold when the limit of value above 120° CIELAB (NCS R50B) has been exceeded. The same sudden change occurs around 330° CIELAB  (NCS G50Y) when the feeling of temperature turns warmer. (da Pos & Valenti, 2007) This connection appears to work cross-culturally. (Sato, Xin & Hansuebsai, 2003)

The colour of ‘cold’ in 9 countries


Light blue is the most chosen colour in all countries. Germany, Iran, and Sweden have the strongest connection between Cold and light blue.
Jung et al. (2018)

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.