Universality of Colour-Emotion Associations


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Universality of Colour-Emotion Associations
Jonauskaite Domicele
Mohr Christine
Parraga C. Alejandro
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques
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For over 100 years, popular and scientific communities have suggested that colours have psychological and affective implications. We feel blue and see red; we wear white to weddings and black to funerals. Could such arbitrary associations between colours and emotions also reflect fundamental aspects of the mind? Or are they symbolic associations, culturally transmitted through our languages and traditions? In the four empirical chapters, I used the same methodology to test universality and stability of colour-emotion associations.
In Chapter 2, I observed universal patterns in colour-emotion associations across 30 nations, with an average cross-cultural similarity of 88%. Some local differences were apparent too, as similarity was greater when nations were linguistically or geographically closer. In Chapter 3, Swiss French-speaking participants associated similar emotions with colour terms and colour patches, demonstrating stability across the modes of colour presentation. In Chapter 4, participants who lived further away from the equator and in rainier countries were more likely to associate yellow with joy, showing that one’s experience with sunshine was important for yellow-joy associations. In Chapter 5, colour-blind Swiss participants associated similar emotions with colour terms or patches as non-colour-blind participants, suggesting that colour- emotion associations in adults were stable irrespective of perceptual realities.
The four studies led to two major conclusions. First, colour-emotion associations are universal and stable with minor differences across nations, colour presentation modes, or different perceptual experiences. Second, colour-emotion associations have a strong conceptual component. These associations seem to be abstract rather than driven by direct visual or affective experience. The four studies enabled me to propose the Colour Connotation Theory, presented in the discussion. Using this theory, I provide suggestions for the mechanisms driving colour-emotion associations, reason how they are connected with other constructs (preferences, cross-modal associations, symbolism) and suggest how colour-emotion associations might lead to colour-related behaviours. More broadly, these studies help bridging the gap between empirical knowledge and practical applications of colour, which are of interest to specialists in design, marketing, communication, health sectors, and others.
colour, emotion, affect, culture, environment, colour perception, colour semantics, basic colour terms (BCT), focal colours, cross-modal correspondences, colour vision deficiencies (CVD), daltonism, dichromatic, trichromatic, cross-cultural psychology
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Swiss National Science Foundation / Careers / P0LAP1_175055
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28/05/2021 13:48
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13/08/2021 7:09
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