Color planning in today's healthcare environments is a challenge for interior designers due to the diverse occupants who may establish different meanings of environmental colors based on their backgrounds and life experiences. Researchers have shown the close relationship between color perception and patients' mental and/or emotional attitudes. Moreover, studies have shown that certain colors can affect some people as stressors while the same colors can be positive distractions to others.
This exploratory qualitative study investigates the significance of culture in the ways people interpret and establish color meaning in healthcare environments. The theoretical framework of this study is based on Blumer's (1969; 2004) discussion on symbolic interaction between humans and environments. Specifically, the relationship between a role of `the self' and cultural influences was analyzed to investigate people's interpretation and establishment of color meaning in healthcare environments. A semi-structured interview questionnaire and a color palette instrument were developed and used to collect data from a sample of 13 female and 12 male Koreans living in Twin Cities, MN and ranging in age from 25 to 39. A research model based on the theoretical constructs of symbolic interaction--the self, objects, social interaction, and joint action--was used to formulate interview questions. Five color palettes were based on the five primary interior color combinations in the Korean tradition and used to assess the subjects' meaning assigned to color in the cultural context. The interview data were analyzed to determine the role of the constructs of symbolic interaction--the self, object, self-interaction, and social interaction--in Koreans' meaning establishment of color in healthcare environments.
Findings include: 1) Color as an abstract object appeared to be related to self-interaction, and color as a physical object and a social object was related to social interaction; 2) the subjects' concepts of healthcare color were based on their personal experiences and cultural backgrounds. Care/warmness, stability, and vitality seemed to be established in the subjects' self-interaction, and hygiene status, comfort from familiarity, professionalism, and users' characteristics were established through the subjects' social interaction. The subjects did not seem to consider `healing' as a concept of healthcare color.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: Design. Advisor: Denise A. Guerin. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 109 pages. Ill. (some col)
Cultural meaning of color in healthcare environments: a symbolic interaction approach..
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