The Science Behind Why You’re More Likely to Click the Color Blue

Blue is one of the most popular colors on social media, and there’s a psychological reason why.

Why people click on blue things

This might seem out of the blue, but color, as it turns out, has a huge affect on your brain.

You interact with so much content on a daily basis — both online and in real life, like picking up a book or choosing a movie based on its Netflix art — it's hard to keep track of why you choose the things you do. While a lot of it is personal preference, of course, there is some science behind why you're clicking on certain things and not others.

As a social editor, specifically managing the Travel + Leisure Instagram account, I can tell you that blue is a color our audience is really into. It can be a cerulean ocean scene, a turquoise pool, or the deeper blue of Santorini's famous rooftops; no matter what, it's going to be a hit. It's not just me who notices this kind of thing — it's actually a tried-and-true scientific fact that people are really, really into the color blue.

Landscape of blue Lake Tahoe with snowcapped mountains and clear blue sky behind, California

Yaya Ernst/Getty Images

According to Color Psychology, blue suggests a feeling of peace and calm. It's also been known to aid in relaxation and meditation (something we could all use more of during a particularly trying scroll session down our Twitter feeds). The color is also linked to productivity, Color Psychology continues, and it's believed that the hue can promote mental clarity and stimulate the thought process. Just these attributes alone explain the staying power this hue has when it comes to social media images.

Colorcom — a group of color experts who provide consultations for businesses and individuals — has a webpage dedicated to the important relationship between color and marketing. According to data on the site, viewers make judgments about products and places within 90 seconds of viewing them, and that anywhere from 62 to 90 percent of their judgement is based solely on color.

Given blue's ability to calm people down, this makes sense. Colorcom also shares that adding any bit of color can increase the amount of time someone spends with a product or on a webpage: "Tests indicate that a black and white image may sustain interest for less than two-thirds a second, whereas a colored image may hold the attention for two seconds or more."

Specifically across social media — Instagram in particular — blue has been proven to be the color you want to use if you're looking to get more likes. In 2013, Digital Trends shared research the visual analytics platform, Curalate, gathered on the popularity of the color blue. The findings? Images that were deemed "mostly blue" received 24 percent more likes than photos featuring reds and oranges. Digital Trends attributed this to the color's calming abilities, saying it "bodes well for users who habitually check their Instagram feeds to blow off some steam from a highly stressful day."

But, in a world where there is a never-ending vault of variations of blue, which one is the most effective? Help Scout — a software company that helps businesses grow audiences — says it's all about the name. A study called "A Rose By Any Other Name..." dug into participants' preferences when it comes to how we name colors. For example, they found that people responded better to fancier names over generic ones ("mocha" versus "brown"). This is why you may find yourself more attracted to azure or Persian blue over light blue or dark blue.

All good things to keep in mind when you're scrolling, but also the next time you pick out paint colors.

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