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Online Class

How Color Affects You: What Science Reveals

by The Great Courses

Color is more than something you see — it's something you feel. Harness the science of color to enhance your art, your decor and more.

What You Get

  • 6 Streaming HD video lessons with anytime, anywhere access
  • Class materials
  • Hours of close-up instruction
  • Closed captioning available (web only)
  • Answers from fellow classmates in our virtual classroom


Uncover the meaning of colors and how our brains are hard-wired to perceive and react to different hues in particular ways. With design expert William Lidwell as your guide, you'll learn about the foundations of color science and how color shapes our perceptions. Next, explore the powerful status signals and moral associations hidden within black and white hues. Think red is always a signal for danger? Discover how this bold color can also signify fear, strength, beauty, status, passion and more. Spin the color wheel to yellow, and you'll learn the answers to a variety of fascinating questions about the spectrum's most vibrant color. Then, Lidwell will discuss how verdant hues can help foster creativity, decrease anxiety and reduce mental fatigue. Finally, explore blue hues, and find out how this color can promote creativity and well-being, but also represent sadness and melancholy.

Lesson Breakdown

1. The Meanings of Color
Start exploring the power of hues as Professor William Lidwell explains foundations of color science and the groundbreaking color experiments devised by Sir Isaac Newton. Move on to learning about color's impact on human behavior and how it can shape our perception of what food tastes like. You'll even uncover the three concepts that explain how people perceive, interpret and respond to color.
2. The Black & White Lecture
3. The Red Lecture
4. The Yellow Lecture
5. The Green Lecture
6. The Blue Lecture

Taught by

William Lidwell, M.S.
William Lidwell, M.S.
William Lidwell has worked on product design and user interaction for more than two decades. During that time, he has frequently consulted on design and consumer experience with leading firms, including Harrah's, IKEA, Merrill Lynch and Procter & Gamble. His books include the best-selling design guide Universal Principles of Design, which has been translated into more than 20 languages. He has also written and edited other works, including Deconstructing Product Design and the Makeshift column for MAKE Magazine.