Classroom Design - NextGen Spaces - Color Psychology - color symbolism - yellow - planning typicals - color inspiration

Color Psychology for Education: How Does Yellow Enhance the Learning Environment?

Written by Alicia Springer, M.Ed.

What do you imagine when you think of the color yellow? Perhaps a bowl of fresh lemons, a spoonful of honey, or a field of sunflowers. Now, think about how this color makes you feel. As you wake in the morning, are you energized by the rising sun? Does it make you smile when you see your furry friend soaking up the rays pouring through the windows? My dogs always seem to find the best light in the house! How about the yellow emoji's?! Would it give you the same warm fuzzies if it were any other color? Yellow is a vibrant hue that has the power to exude happiness, positivity, and life.


"How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun." -Vincent Van Gogh




Colors for Learning: The impact of yellow

Color psychology is the study of how certain colors impact human behavior, not to be confused with color theory. Both are important to understand when determining how to use it effectively in modern learning environments. Yellow is believed to be the most noticeable of all colors to the human eye. It has the ability to boost mood but can also become overpowering and strain the eyes if overused. Understanding how color affects people, ensures that the colors in your learning environments are working for rather than against you.

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yellow is commonly associated with:


  • Warmth + Sunshine
  • Joy + Happiness
  • Cheerfulness 
  • Positivity
  • Optimism


Yellow is generally connected to the sun which symbolizes positive vibes such as happiness, warmth, and sunshine. On the flip side, yellow can also symbolize cowardliness, caution, and deceit. 


Cheerful and energetic. Yellow enhances concentration by giving the brain and nervous system a "wake-up" call. 


use yellow as a stimulant to:


  • Grab attention
  • Build emotional energy
  • Encourage communication
  • Wake up the nervous system

Chisholm_Yellow Gathering Spaces_Uniflex_Discover

A person surrounded by yellow generally feels optimistic because the brain releases more serotonin when surrounded by this cheery color. 


yellow has the ability to:


  • Promote interaction
  • Promote high levels of thought
  • Boost memory
  • Encourage communication



Balance yellow with green for a lively, citrus-inspired learning environment.


Take a tour above to see how pops of yellow are used in the NXT MOV virtual classroom!





three tips for designing with yellow in learning environments: 


    • Use sparingly: Too much yellow could make your design could feel cheap and overstimulating
    • Add brightness: Yellow furniture, walls, or accents can add illumination, even to a small space
    • Balance: Have you ever tried to read yellow text? Yellow is the most fatiguing of all colors to the eye because it reflects so much light. Try balancing with a complimentary like such as blue or green to give your brain a break.




rethinking learning environments for the future workbook download



Jun 7, 2022

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