Baker-Miller Pink

Goethe

Adam Alter

Baker-Miller Pink is a tone of pink that was originally created by mixing one gallon of pure white indoor latex paint with one pint of red trim semi-gloss outdoor paint. It is named for the two US Navy officers who first experimented with its use in the Naval Correctional Facility in Seattle, Washington at the behest of researcher Alexander Schauss. The color is also known as Schauss pink, after Alexander Schauss’s extensive research into the effects of the color on emotions and hormones, as well as P-618 and ‘Drunk-Tank Pink’ (so named because jails cells are painted this color because it is believed to calm inmates).

Contemporary research has shown conflicting results on the effects of Baker-Miller pink. While the initial results at the Naval Correctional facility in Seattle were positive, calming those exposed, inmates at the Santa Clara county jail were trying to scratch the paint from the walls with their fingernails when exposed for more than fifteen minutes. At Johns Hopkins, appetite suppression was observed and studied.

In the late 1960s, Alexander Schauss, Director of Life Sciences at the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington, did studies on psychological and physiological responses to the color pink. Schauss had read studies by the Swiss psychiatrist Max Luscher, who believed that color preferences provided clues about one’s personality. Luscher noticed that color preferences shifted according to psychological and physiological fluctuations in his patients. Luscher asserted that color choice reflects emotional states. He theorized that one’s color choices reflect corresponding changes in the endocrine system, which produces hormones.

Schauss then wondered if the reverse might also be true. Could color cause emotional and hormonal changes? Could various wavelengths of light trigger profound and measurable responses in the endocrine system? In early tests in 1978, Schauss observed that color, surprisingly, did affect muscle strength, either invigorating or enervating the subject, and even influenced the cardiovascular system. He began to experiment on himself, and amazingly, he discovered that a particular shade of pink had the most profound effect. He labeled this tone of pink P-618. Schauss noted that by merely staring at an 18 × 24 inch card printed with this color, especially after exercising, there would result ‘a marked effect on lowering the heart rate, pulse and respiration as compared to other colors.’

In 1979, Schauss managed to convince the directors of a Naval correctional institute in Seattle, Washington to paint some prison confinement cells pink in order to determine the effects this might have on prisoners. Schauss named the color after the Naval correctional institute directors, Baker and Miller. At the correctional facility, the rates of assault before and after the interior was painted pink were monitored. According to the Navy’s report, ‘Since the initiation of this procedure on 1 March 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement.’ Only fifteen minutes of exposure was enough to ensure that the potential for violent or aggressive behavior had been reduced, the report observed.

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