I spent last weekend in Devon, surrounded by the bright vibrant green which compared to London seems to be audaciously everywhere. Even the sides of a bypass by an industrial estate are lined with vivid green hedges.
It got me reading about the “green effect”. Frankly, this sounds as new-age as something you would find in the town I was visiting, Totnes, but it does seem to have an evidence-base. Green appears to make us more creative.
A study done last year took previously more anecdotal research and beefed it up: giving people a flash of green before asking them to be creative does appear to give them a creative boost. Lichtenfeld et al (2012) presented people with a brief glimpse of green before they were about to do a creativity task. The experimenters showed a positive effect of the colour green on a range of different measures of creativity (e.g. generating uses for an object, or drawing different figures from the same initial stimulus). They compared the glimpse of green with glimpses of white, grey, blue and red and found that green was the only colour that had this positive effect.
We don’t really know why green might do this, but maybe something about associations with rural environments and growth gets us into a more fertile frame of mind for generating ideas. So if you’re a creative type and you’re thinking about painting your workspace, go green. Or better still, go to the park and tell your boss it’s good for your creative output.