A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations

Diana Tham, Paul Sowden, Alexandra Grandison, Anna Franklin, Anna Lee, Michelle Ng, Juhyun Park, Weiguo Pang, Jingwen Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Associations with colours are a rich source of meaning and there has been considerable interest in understanding the capacity of colour to shape our functioning and behaviour as a result of colour associations. However, abstract conceptual colour associations have not been comprehensively investigated and many of the effects of colour on psychological functioning reported in the literature are therefore reliant on ad hoc rationalisations of conceptual associations with colour (e.g. blue – openness) to explain effects. In the present work we conduct a systematic, cross-cultural, mapping of conceptual colour associations using the full set of hues from the World Colour Survey (WCS). In Experiments 1a and 1b we explored the conceptual associations that English monolingual, Chinese bilingual and Chinese monolingual speaking adults have with each of the 11 Basic English Colour Terms (black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, grey). In Experiment 2 we determined which specific physical WCS colours are associated with which concepts in these three language groups. The findings reveal conceptual colour associations that appear to be ‘universal’ across all cultures (e.g. white – purity; blue – water/sky related; green – health; purple – regal; pink – ‘female’ traits) as well as culture specific (e.g. red and orange – enthusiastic in Chinese; red – attraction in English). Importantly, the findings provide a crucial constraint on, and resource for, future work that seeks to understand the effect of colour on cognition and behaviour, enabling stronger a priori predictions about universal as well as culturally relative effects of conceptual colour associations on cognition and behaviour to be systematically tested.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • colour perception
  • colour cognition
  • colour language
  • colour-concept association
  • concept-colour association
  • cross-cultural

Cite this

Tham, D., Sowden, P., Grandison, A., Franklin, A., Lee, A., Ng, M., ... Zhao, J. (Accepted/In press). A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
Tham, Diana ; Sowden, Paul ; Grandison, Alexandra ; Franklin, Anna ; Lee, Anna ; Ng, Michelle ; Park, Juhyun ; Pang, Weiguo ; Zhao, Jingwen. / A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations. In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 2019.
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Tham, D, Sowden, P, Grandison, A, Franklin, A, Lee, A, Ng, M, Park, J, Pang, W & Zhao, J 2019, 'A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations' Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations. / Tham, Diana; Sowden, Paul; Grandison, Alexandra; Franklin, Anna; Lee, Anna; Ng, Michelle; Park, Juhyun; Pang, Weiguo; Zhao, Jingwen.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 17.09.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - A systematic investigation of conceptual colour associations

AU - Tham, Diana

AU - Sowden, Paul

AU - Grandison, Alexandra

AU - Franklin, Anna

AU - Lee, Anna

AU - Ng, Michelle

AU - Park, Juhyun

AU - Pang, Weiguo

AU - Zhao, Jingwen

PY - 2019/9/17

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N2 - Associations with colours are a rich source of meaning and there has been considerable interest in understanding the capacity of colour to shape our functioning and behaviour as a result of colour associations. However, abstract conceptual colour associations have not been comprehensively investigated and many of the effects of colour on psychological functioning reported in the literature are therefore reliant on ad hoc rationalisations of conceptual associations with colour (e.g. blue – openness) to explain effects. In the present work we conduct a systematic, cross-cultural, mapping of conceptual colour associations using the full set of hues from the World Colour Survey (WCS). In Experiments 1a and 1b we explored the conceptual associations that English monolingual, Chinese bilingual and Chinese monolingual speaking adults have with each of the 11 Basic English Colour Terms (black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, grey). In Experiment 2 we determined which specific physical WCS colours are associated with which concepts in these three language groups. The findings reveal conceptual colour associations that appear to be ‘universal’ across all cultures (e.g. white – purity; blue – water/sky related; green – health; purple – regal; pink – ‘female’ traits) as well as culture specific (e.g. red and orange – enthusiastic in Chinese; red – attraction in English). Importantly, the findings provide a crucial constraint on, and resource for, future work that seeks to understand the effect of colour on cognition and behaviour, enabling stronger a priori predictions about universal as well as culturally relative effects of conceptual colour associations on cognition and behaviour to be systematically tested.

AB - Associations with colours are a rich source of meaning and there has been considerable interest in understanding the capacity of colour to shape our functioning and behaviour as a result of colour associations. However, abstract conceptual colour associations have not been comprehensively investigated and many of the effects of colour on psychological functioning reported in the literature are therefore reliant on ad hoc rationalisations of conceptual associations with colour (e.g. blue – openness) to explain effects. In the present work we conduct a systematic, cross-cultural, mapping of conceptual colour associations using the full set of hues from the World Colour Survey (WCS). In Experiments 1a and 1b we explored the conceptual associations that English monolingual, Chinese bilingual and Chinese monolingual speaking adults have with each of the 11 Basic English Colour Terms (black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, grey). In Experiment 2 we determined which specific physical WCS colours are associated with which concepts in these three language groups. The findings reveal conceptual colour associations that appear to be ‘universal’ across all cultures (e.g. white – purity; blue – water/sky related; green – health; purple – regal; pink – ‘female’ traits) as well as culture specific (e.g. red and orange – enthusiastic in Chinese; red – attraction in English). Importantly, the findings provide a crucial constraint on, and resource for, future work that seeks to understand the effect of colour on cognition and behaviour, enabling stronger a priori predictions about universal as well as culturally relative effects of conceptual colour associations on cognition and behaviour to be systematically tested.

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KW - colour cognition

KW - colour language

KW - colour-concept association

KW - concept-colour association

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M3 - Article

JO - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

JF - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

SN - 0096-3445

ER -