Psychology, Symbolism and Meaning of Yellow Colour

We can never say about other colours, but yellow is happiness! Like the warmth of sunshine!

Yellow is a very interesting hue because of the variety of positive and negative meanings associated with it. If we paint a wall with sunshine, happiness, optimism, clarity and positivity the colour would most definitely be yellow!

Surprisingly, the emotions of jealousy, deceit, cowardice and caution might also be painted with a shade of yellow colour. While yellow is itself an energetic and cheerful hue, some cultures and countries have a pessimistic association with the colour.

Yellow is the colour of various emotions and expressions. The next colour of the spectrum after red, yellow is a high attention-grabbing colour and expresses childlike happiness. As a matter of fact, most designers prefer yellow for poster and logos.

meanings and presence of yellow in nature

All these symbolisms and uses of yellow make us question, what is the meaning of yellow colour? What is the symbolism of the colour yellow in various cultures around the world? What effects does it have on the human body and mind? What is the colour psychology of yellow?

Explore ahead the various meaning and symbolisms of this beautiful yet eccentric colour!

1. Meanings and definitions of Yellow:

Meaning of yellow foods

The universal meaning of the colour yellow is the sun and its warmth. We can easily associate yellow with positivity and cheerfulness. It is also symbolic of stimulated thoughts, mental state and energy.

Colour Yellow helps encourage imagination, build up memory, increase sight and activate the muscular system and organs of our body. Yellow as a favourite colour represents a lot of things. It means happiness and the love for learning things. They are said to be outgoing and full of new ideas.

The people with favourite colour yellow can be very critical of themselves. (And if you are one, Trust me, letting yourself relax sometimes is good!)

When we are using yellow in designing, the prime focus is to make the design more comfortable than overbearing. If you are planning to paint your house yellow, it would be better to avoid very strong and bright yellows. Also, too much yellow can cause moodiness and irritation in children. It is believed to make the person lose attention.

yellow coloured baby duck meaning

The different shades, hues and tints of yellow convey a lot of different emotion.

  • The lighter shades of yellow are representative of happiness and comfort.
  • The bright yellows are representative of caution and attention.
  • The darker yellows are representative of sickness and deceit.

2. Common use and presence of Yellow:

Yellow coloured taxis and symbolism

The attention-grabbing ability of yellow is the reason behind its use as traffic light, caution signs, soccer’s yellow card and even sale events! The colour is also believed to appeal more to children. A lot of child products and toys often use yellow as the primary colour.

The famous cartoon Sponge Bob Square-pants and Pikachu are also prominent representatives of yellow. In nature and our environment, yellow is present in bananas, daffodils, marigold, egg-yolk, mustard and turmeric. It is one of the most common colours in flowers and also metals.

Another very prominent symbolism of yellow is found in the presence of Taxis in western countries and some other parts of the world too.

3. Landscapes and the colour yellow:

yellow colour flower symbolism

The varied cultures and their interpretations of colours are as vast and intriguing as it can get. Let us study how yellow is interpreted and seen through the glasses of different cultures and countries.

In Thailand, the colour yellow is used to mark the lucky day of Monday. The king of Thailand, King Bhumibol was born on Monday and thus the day is considered to a good and positive day. Many Thai nationals wear yellow on Monday as a tribute to the king. There are also some schools in Thailand which require its teachers to wear yellow in early December to mark his birthday celebrations.

Some countries use yellow to represent gold. Thus In many African nations, the colour yellow is associated with wealth and success. In Egypt also yellow is considered the same as gold. It has been significant in use for painting tombs of emperors, thus representing wealth but also mourning.

In Japanese culture, the colour yellow is associated with bravery, courage, loyalty to the royal family, wealth and refinement. This significance of yellow has been around for many centuries now. The flower of chrysanthemums was carried by Japanese soldiers to represent their country and the Royal Japanese Family.

buddhist monks wearing yellow robes

In India, the colour is closely associated with saffron. It is used in many religious practices of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The Buddhist monks of Mahayana sect wear yellow coloured robes.

The yellow flowers of marigold are used to preach the Hindu gods. Also, many Hindu gods such as Lord Krishna the elephant god Ganesh are depicted wearing yellow coloured clothes and data. In Islamic culture, the yellow hues and shades represent wisdom.

No country regards the colour yellow as highly as China. Yellow holds many meanings and is very valuable to the Chinese culture. In China, the directions are considered to be five in number. These are north, south, east, west, and middle. Each of these directions is represented as a colour and the middle is Yellow. The middle holds high value as China was also called the Middle Kingdom.

But surprisingly, in modern-day China, the colour also has some negative associations. The terms “yellow picture” or “yellow book” is used to describe elicit and pornographic media.

Some countries have negative associations of yellow. France affiliates yellow with betrayal, cowardice, distrust and jealousy. Also, Germany associates yellow with jealousy.

4. Negative association of yellow:

yellow colour and effects on body

There can be some ill effects of yellow on our body and mind. The colour is also associated with poor health and diseases such as Jaundice. It is also associated with poor mental health.

In Russia, a common term for mental asylums is “yellow house”. Since the colour is also very high in energy, it can be taxing for the body. The darker shades of yellow are mostly associated with deceit. 

The colour yellow is an attention-getter and invigorating. Using too much of yellow colour can become overwhelming for any project. Therefore, lesser amounts of yellow and lighter hues of the colour should be preferred.

Many studies have shown that children should not be kept in too loudly yellow coloured rooms as it can cause them to feel uneasy and scattered. The children have also shown signs of being moody and confused.

The right shades of yellow can help uplift one’s spirits whilst the wrong shade can become exhausting. The balance of mind is the key to finding your yellow!


To conclude, the most prominent meanings of yellow are happiness, excitement, sunshine, warmth and on the other side it can mean jealousy, deceit, poor-health. The colour psychology of yellow depicts it as an exhausting and high energy hue. The good balance and low amounts of yellow can be beneficial. Also, it is one of the most easily found colours in the nature and has various symbolism(as aforementioned).