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The Psychological Use of Color in Trial Exhibits

Summary:

As a society, we are attracted and repelled by the color of what we are viewing. Taken in context, a blue sky provides a lift to our spirits, while blue marks on skin are repellent and disquieting. Color surrounds us. Messages written in a variety of colors provide information, emotional responses and direction in our everyday life. We live, breathe, eat and drink by color.

The most important factor to consider when employing color (or any other graphical element, for that matter), is that no choice should be arbitrary. Color has a few very distinctive roles that should be mastered. Color is used to identify, unify, separate, emphasize, hide, and prioritize content. Color can be loud and forceful or quiet and suggestive.

Numerous color studies, going back as far as Goethe, have been used by psychologists, designers, and educators to maximize their visual communication of ideas. According to the principles that we have learned from these studies, the courtroom is just as valid a venue as a classroom, an advertisement, or a home for the selective and purposeful use of color.

Historically, clients delegate the selection of colors used in demonstrative exhibits to the designers, with the implied understanding that they have at some time been schooled in the proper use of color within the specific applications of visual evidence. Just where have artists learned this? The fact is, color theory is rarely, if ever, taught in art school as a mode of subliminal persuasion.


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