The Psychology Of Green

This post was originally in XStitch Magazine Issue 4: Green, and has been adapted.
When someone talks about green a few things pop into your mind quite quickly; the color of money, the color of nature, that trendy Matcha tea, the green-eyed monster, or the not-so-popular vegetable known as ‘sprouts’. However, for many, green is not universal.
To explain this better, I’m going to jump back to the Romans, and the color blue, or as they knew it; bronze. You see, to the Romans the sky was simply a shade of bronze, and it was only until they expanded into Europe and Africa that they realized other people called some of their bronzy colors blue. The colors were always the same, and the name change didn’t really bother the Romans, however the understanding that the bronzy sky could be from the same color palette as the sea simply didn’t resonate; it would be like comparing yellow and green nowadays.
Now whilst variations in eyes do mean that people don’t see colors exactly the same, and women tend to describe colors more specifically than men, it’s this difference in color understanding that causes controversy and, in my mind, interest.
Let’s start with some color facts; people tend to like green, it’s the second and third favorite color for men and women respectfully, with roughly 14% of the vote. However, it also ranks highly in distaste; with 6% of people describing it as their least favorite color. This is stronger in women than men, and men tend to hate the paler colors less.


But what does all that mean? Well, it means designers struggle to cope with green. More universally accepted colors like red and blue can be used freely in design with known results; green can’t.
Taking prescription drugs as an example; color and the placebo effect has a massive part to play. Take a cream to treat a burn; would you prefer a nice cooling white or a stimulating red? It turns out that that red cream works on almost none of the patients, despite it being the same cream. It’s for this reason that colors are picked for drugs very specifically. Green for example could be used for antidepressants as it’s meant to be calming and reduce anxiety, but despite that, most antidepressants are yellow. Why? Color confusion. That calming green isn’t so calming for everyone, in fact, for some, it causes anxiety.
Jealousy; the green most people think of when it comes to emotions, and the one that’s most heavily linked to anxiety. This notion of a green-eyed monster is fairly hard to substantiate, with no one really being sure why it’s associated with green. However, one thing is clear; the ‘monster’ comes to life in a lot of mediums. The raging Hulk, the Grinch, Godzilla, or even Kermit the Frog (He’s up to something, I swear). Monsters ARE green, and that normally means that green is bad. But it is always? What about the Jolly Green Giant? A massive green monster, that, just like the slogan says, stands for goodness. Confused? Now you understand the problem.
Green Lantern Cross Stitch by saber (source:
Green Lantern Cross Stitch by saber (source:

Let’s talk food to start. In the past green foods have been treated well; think Popeye’s spinach, but also poorly; think Solent Green. However green foods tend to fit into two camps; artificially green, and natural green. For most, it’s easy to tell the difference between these two, with natural green foods being super healthy and not so fun to eat. As one of the only truly natural foods though, green items represent something; nature. That Jolly Green Giant is promoting the healthy and environmentally friendly trend. But that’s all too often used against us.
Our love of natural products, especially important at the moment, can be used against us with ease. The likes of those kale and matcha tea superfoods and drinks aren’t all they seem. Kale and matcha are strong color changers, making pretty much anything turning a natural green, even if those smoothies are packed full of sugar. I don’t expect anyone to start checking all the ingredients on their foods, but you can spot when designers use colors against you quite easily. Logos. Without naming and shaming, one of the least environmentally friendly companies on our high streets has a green logo, as do some of the highest polluting oil companies. The reason for this is to appear natural, appear less likely to cause anxiety. And if you want to appear as something, instead of using your credentials to prove it, it’s a warning sign. But does that mean we should avoid green like the plague?
Despite being one of the least favorable colors, green has one thing over any other color on the spectrum; it’s restful. I’m not talking psychologically here either. Due to the eye’s structure, green is the least strenuous color to look at, meaning that walk in nature is calming for you, and your brain knows it. And that’s why despite being linked with illness, jealously, monsters, boring food, and false advertising, green remains one of the only colors your brain seeks out.

So, what does all this mean? Green has a bit of an identity crisis, struggling to fit into a camp as good or bad. And that’s why I think green needs more love. Now you know a little more about the color, you can choose how you perceive it. When you see the green logos of mega-corporations; think about why they’ve chosen the color. When you see a green field, relish the ease on your eyes, and allow your emotions to move to calm. When you hear about the green-eyed monster, just think of it as a catchy name. Personally, I would suggest you do this with every color, but a great starting place is green, loved, and hated.
“But Lord Libidan, that doesn’t explain why American dollars are green!” I hear you shout. Well, America is capitalist, and thanks to people having such a confusing relationship with green, its ink is used less, meaning it’s cheap. A new government-run bill circulation called for a lower production cost, and in the 1860s that meant the cheap green ink.
We expanded on this post recently when we asked the question; why are glow in the dark threads green?
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

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