Blue, the color of calm, trust and safety

The clear blue sky on a winters day and the deep blue of the sea. Seeing the color blue has an immediate effect on our frame of mind. Blue evokes a sense of calm, trust and safety. This effect is not only psychological but physical as well: Seeing this color lowers our blood pressure.

This effect can be traced back to our primal instinct. To survive in prehistoric times the urgency of getting food and averting danger was very real. A free line of sight; an unobscured view of the horizon, where the blue sky meets the land, offered various strategic advantages. On one hand to assess possible threats and on the other to pinpoint sources of food. To observe how this instinct still effects our behavior today, think of the predilection many people have for a house with a view or the feeling we get when we gaze at the ocean. (Friedman, 2014).

Blue as a source of information

In his book Applied Color Psychology (1968) Mr T Oegema van der Wal asserts the combination blue-white serves best to convey an announcement. The underlying theory: Since prehistoric times, human beings have been watching the skies to predict the weather. This assessment was of vital importance as our ancestors prepared for the challenges of the coming day. Every type of weather corresponded with a certain foraging strategy. Considering that, for millions of years, the sky has been one of our most trusted advisers, it’s fair to assert its colors are deeply rooted in our primordial brain. Information conveyed in the colors blue and white; a blue sky functioning as the background for a white (the clouds) message.

A quaint fact: In the above mentioned book Oegema recommends the substitution of all black and white road signs for blue and white ones. Presently, almost 50 years later, when we look at the dutch road signs, it’s obvious his advise has been taken to heart.

Blue applied

The color blue also inspires trust and suggests empathy. Politicians skillfully exploit this feature, adjusting, for instance, the color of their attire in compliance with the aim of their speech. Shades of blue are used when a speech pertains to trust and safety.


When speeches are centered around decisiveness and action, shades of red are employed. The garment of choice in this case is usually the tie.


While we’re on the subject of attire, the dutch police department is presently working to improve their connection with the community. Does the present color of their uniform, black, contribute to this endeavor or is the previously used color blue the best choice?


The color blue is situated opposite of red on the color spectrum and is described as a cold color. Blue has a cooling effect. It reminds us of water and ice. This effect is most notable on a hot summers day. When exposed to heat our subconscious mind has a preference for cold colors as opposed to a warm color like red. During the winter it’s the other way around. When exposed to cold we prefer shades of warm colors as they fool our brains into feeling warmth. Aside from the psychological effect there is a physical effect, as I mentioned in my previous blog on the color red. The sight of red raises our blood pressure and heart rate.

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