The effects of color and light on indoor wayfinding and the evaluation
of the perceived environment
M. Lutfi Hidayetoglu a,*, Kemal Yildirim b
, Aysu Akalin c
aDepartment of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Selcuk University, Selcuklu, Konya, Turkey
bDepartment of Furniture & Decoration, Gazi University, Besevler, Ankara, Turkey
cDepartment of Architecture, Gazi University, Maltepe, Ankara, Turkey
Available online 29 September 2011
Correlated color temperature
This study was designed to explore the effects of color and light on indoor wayfinding and the subjective
judgments of those perceiving the environment. Furthermore, how problems experienced in buildings
with complex floor plans and successive spaces are addressed using variables such as color, brightness,
and correlated color temperature through a desktop virtual reality environment. The experiment was
conducted with the participation of 102 university students who experienced the indoor environments
with various color and light variables, and evaluated these environments using concrete concepts like
clear/blurry, attractive/unattractive, navigable/unnavigable and inviting/repellent. The scores for attractiveness and remembrance of warm colors were found to be higher than those for other colors, and the
median scores for the positive perception of correlated color temperature were found to be higher than
those concerning high and low level temperatures. However, it was confirmed that the use of warm and
cool colors in indoor environments with low light levels were not taken into consideration by users of
a space and were perceived negatively. Moreover, it was determined that compared to the males, females
preferred high brightness levels.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. The effects of color and light on indoor wayfinding and
The term wayfinding was first used by Kevin Lynch, an urban
planner, in his book The Image of the City (1960). He first investigated how the characteristics of an urban space affected, how well
people remembered features in it. Arthur and Passini (1992) have
described wayfinding as a means of spatial problem-solving consisting of decision-making, decision-execution and informationprocessing understood as comprising environmental perception
and cognition. Peponis, Zimring, and Cho (1990) have described
wayfinding as the ability to reach an objective in a short time
without experiencing fear and stress. In the case of someone
encountering orientation problems and experiencing increased
anxiety, wayfinding can be negatively affected by a phenomenon
known as “spatial anxiety” (Lawton, 1994). Yoo (1991) has
demonstrated that someone experiencing trouble in finding their
way may experience increased blood pressure, headaches, feelings
of desperation and weariness. For instance, as a result of customers’
inability to find a store for which they have been looking, they may
become lost and unable to orientate themselves, which in turn may
make them angry and uncomfortable.
Baker (1986) has emphasized indoor environmental factors
classified as ambient (temperature, sound, and smell), design (plan,
color, material, and furniture layouts) and social (age, gender, and
education) that influence the making sense of spatial constraints
and function. The proper use of environmental factors positively
affects the perceptions, behavioral decisions, spatial orientation
and wayfinding of users. However, in such a complex context, it is
very difficult to deal with all these factors and establish specific
design and practice rules. For this reason, the studies of this
research encompassed the effects of only one or a small number of
variables. In most studies related to orientation and wayfinding,
elements such as landmarks and experience (Passini, Pigot,
Rainville, & Tetreault, 2000), symmetry and plan complexity
(Hidayetoglu, Yildirim, & Cagatay, 2010), visual accessibility (Dogu,
1997), signal systems (Arthur & Passini, 1992), individual differences (Coluccia & Louse, 2004; Cutmore, Hine, Maberly, Langford, &
Hawgood, 2000; Scmitz, 1997; Waller, Knapp, & Hunt, 2001), plan
scheme readability (Yoo, 1991), and the behavior of users (Griffin,
1973) have been discussed. These studies have revealed that
landmarks and direction signs make wayfinding easier (O’Neill,
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