Relationship between color and emotion: A study of college students.

Published on Sep 1, 2004in College student journal
Naz Kaya6
Estimated H-index: 6
(UGA: University of Georgia),
Helen H. Epps10
Estimated H-index: 10
(UGA: University of Georgia)
Ninety-eight college students were asked to indicate their emotional responses to five principle hues (i.e., red, yellow, green, blue, purple), five intermediate hues (i.e., yellow-red, green-yellow, blue-green, purple-blue, and red-purple), and three achromatic colors (white, gray, and black) and the reasons for their choices. The color stimuli were referenced from the Munsell Color System. The results revealed that the principle hues comprised the highest number of positive emotional responses, followed by the intermediate hues and the achromatic colors. The color green evoked mainly positive emotions such as relaxation and comfort because it reminded most of the respondents of nature. The color green-yellow had the lowest number of positive responses because it was associated with vomit and elicited the feelings of sickness and disgust. For the achromatic colors, white attained a large number of positive responses, followed by the colors black and gray. The reasons for the color-emotion associations are discussed and future research areas are suggested. Introduction Color is an inseparable part of our everyday lives and its presence is evident in everything that we perceive. It is widely recognized that colors have also a strong impact on our emotions and feelings (Hemphill, 1996; Lang, 1993; Mahnke, 1996). For instance, the color red has been associated with excitement, orange has been perceived as distressing and upsetting, purple as dignified and stately, yellow as cheerful, and blue has been associated with comfort and security (Ballast, 2002; Wexner, 1982). Moreover, some colors may be associated with several different emotions and some emotions are associated with more than one color (Linton, 1999, Saito, 1996). Red, symbolically known as a dominant and dynamic color, has an exciting and stimulating hue effect. It has both positive and negative impressions such as active, strong, passionate, warm, but on the other hand aggressive, bloody, raging and intense. Green has been found to have a retiring and relaxing effect. It too has both positive and negative impressions such as refreshment, quietness, naturalness, and conversely tiredness and guilt (Davey, 1998, Mahnke, 1996, Saito, 1996). The relationship between color and emotion is closely tied to color preferences. In particular, color preferences are associated with whether a color elicits positive or negative feelings. While particular colors have been found to be highly preferred regardless of age, racial group, or culture (Adams & Osgood, 1973, Eysenck, 1941), there is some evidence that color preference may be culturally-based. For example, Choungourian (1968) found that the colors red and blue were the most preferred colors among American subjects, but were less preferred in other cultures. In a comparision of Japanese and Korean subjects, Saito (1996) found unique color preference tendencies between the two countries, and also with respect to age, gender, and geographical region within the individual country. In an investigation of children's emotional associations with colors, Boyatzis and Varghese (1994) found that light colors (e.g., yellow, blue) are associated with positive emotions (e.g., happy, strong) and dark colors (e.g., black, gray) with negative emotions (e.g., sad, angry). In a study examining color-emotion associations among college students in Australia, Hemphill (1996) also found that bright colors elicited mainly positive emotional associations, while dark colors elicited negative emotional associations, confirming the results obtained by Boyatzis and Varghese (1994). However, Saito (1996) found that the color black elicited both negative and positive responses among Japanese subjects, and that black was often a preferred color among young people. Colors can also be described in temperature terms, such as "warm" or "cool"as related to the dominant wavelength of the color. The cool colors (e. …
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