If you're in the market for a new desktop look or office paint, consider red or blue—they might just give a background boost to your creativity or attention to detail. A New York Times piece looks at the most recent study on "colour effects," which try to determine whether performance is helped, hurt, or unaffected by colours—primarily red and blue, as those two shades have shown up again and again in previous studies. Take it with a grain of salt, but University of British Columbia researchers found that, in cognitive tests of 600 people:
Red groups did better on tests of recall and attention to detail, like remembering words or checking spelling and punctuation. Blue groups did better on tests requiring imagination, like inventing creative uses for a brick or creating toys from shapes.
The article goes on to list a number of studies in which blue and red have made people appear more attractive, dominant, work more creatively, and so on.