In the beginning of the 1980’s, Alexander Schauss, a researcher at the University of Arizona, carried out a study in which he tried to prove that a certain shade of pink, named “Baker-Miller-Pink”, had calming and soothing properties. In an experiment he asked subjects to look at a large pink square with their arms upright. The control group looked at a blue square. The effect was mindblowing: subjects who looked at “Baker-Miller-Pink” resisted less while being forced to lower their arms than those looking at a blue square. The news of the calming pink spread quickly. Directors of prisons who decided to repaint prison cells with that colour recorded a significant decline in the level of aggression among their inmates. Five years later, however, scientists failed to repeat Schauss’s experiment and controversies arose around the pink prisons. Gender studies researcher Dominique Grisard put forward an argument that pink cells actually have a demeaning effect on male prisoners, who feel humiliated by the fact of dwelling in a room that looks like a “little girl’s room”.
2011 brought another attempt with pink cells. The Swiss psychologist Daniela Späth developed the colour “Cool Down Pink”, a more saturated and darker shade than Schauss’s pink. She applied it to 10 prisons in Switzerland. Four years after its introduction to Swiss prisons the reports confirmed a reduction in aggression among prisoners for a second time – the pink cell was again a quick relaxation cell.