By Margaret A. Miele
                                      Assistant Professor of Psychology
                                      Fashion Institute of Technology

          Teaching the Psychology of Color is a challenging activity. Teaching it
   to non-psychology, primarily design students arguably presents its own unique
   challenges. There is a wide range of topics, which might be addressed and an
   equally abundant number of approaches one might take.

          For instance, one might study classical color theory. Perhaps the
   standard text and lecture model would serve best here. Students could read
   primary sources and have the salient points elucidated by the instructor. Is
   recognizing the missteps of Aristotle’s primitive logic or memorizing Goethe's
   General Characteristics of Color the path to creating better graphic designs?

          Then there is the wealth of information, which draws from research on
   human physiology and perception. Students could be taught the procedures and
   guidelines of research methodology, thus allowing them to critically review
   various studies. Ultimately they might learn a great deal about thresholds,
   receptor cells and brain structure, but would this make them more insightful
   package designers?

           What about the social and cultural aspects of color? Color language and
   symbolism provide a great deal information about a people. Social Science is
   rife with such historical analyses. While understanding our past is an effective
   tool for helping us to prepare for our future, can Home Products or Interior
   Design students readily apply this knowledge to anticipate client needs?

           And still, there is the issue of color as an indicator of our personality.
   How might students best become familiar with approaches that look to
   correlate color usage and preference with individual variables such as traits,
   gender and age? How does an Advertising Design student translate
   psychoanalytic notions about the drawings of emotionally disturbed children
   into an ad campaign for the Super Bowl?

   In preparing the course of study for the Psychology of Color, I grappled with
   these and other issues. Eventually, and there was more than just a little trial and
   error, I came to realize the obvious, that color education in the classroom,
   should emulate color education in everyday life; through interaction and
The purpose of this talk is twofold. First, I will describe the types of activities
and exercises I use to teach the Psychology of Color. Along the way, I will
explain how these activities and exercises evolved as well as the educational
value they achieve. As further illustration, examples of student's work will be
displayed and discussed. Students have explored many avenues of interest in
the world of color, from the more theoretical to the very applied. Students have
investigated Gestalt principles of perception. Others have queried New York
City subway riders on their opinions about color use in the mass transit system.
Yet another group of students investigated how a woman's use of color might
effect the attributions and responses of those around her. This is just a small
sample of the teaching-learning activities that I have employed.

The second goal is to explore some questions regarding color education in the
twenty-first century. How can we better prepare students to meet the needs of
industry? What role will technology play in the changing face of color
education? Who needs color education? What should they know? What about
those who are already on the job? How can the interactive/experiential model
be translated into employee training in the private sector?

Margaret A. Miele is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Assistant
Chairperson of the Social Sciences Department at the Fashion Institute of
Technology in New York City. Her areas of specialty are Color Psychology,
Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Research Methodology. She has
spearheaded the teaching of the Psychology of Color at F.I.T. and serves as an
industry consultant. She is an active advocate of color education and research.
Professor Miele was on the advisory board for EduColor 2000, is Chair of the
Inter Society Color Council's Interest Group on Art, Design and Psychology, is
a faculty advisor to the F.I.T. Student Chapter of the ISCC and is an invited
contributor and lecturer to the All Japan Fashion Teachers Association and the
Color Council of the United States. Along with several of her colleagues at
F.I.T., she is developing a certificate program in Color Studies, which will help
to serve industry needs in the arena of Color education.

Contact Information:
      Address:     Social Sciences Department, Room B634
                   Fashion Institute of Technology
                   Seventh Avenue at 27Th Street
                   New York, N.Y. 10001-5992

       Phone:          (212) 217 - 8449 [Voice Mail]
                       (212) 217 - 7095 [Fax]


To top