A systematic investigation of conceptual color associations

Tham, Diana Su Yun and Sowden, Paul and Grandison, Alexandra and Franklin, Anna and Lee, Anna and Ng, Michelle and Park, Juhyun and Pang, Weiguo and Zhao, Jingwen (2020) A systematic investigation of conceptual color associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149 (7). 1311–1332. ISSN 0096-3445

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Associations with colors are a rich source of meaning, and there has been considerable interest in understanding the capacity of color to shape our functioning and behavior as a result of color associations. However, abstract conceptual color associations have not been comprehensively investigated, and many of the effects of color on psychological functioning reported in the literature are therefore reliant on ad hoc rationalizations of conceptual associations with color (e.g., blue = openness) to explain effects. In the present work we conduct a systematic, cross-cultural, mapping of conceptual color associations using the full set of hues from the World Color 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 Color Terms (black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, gray). In Experiment 2 we determined which specific physical WCS colors are associated with which concepts in these three language groups. The findings reveal conceptual color 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 color on cognition and behavior, enabling stronger a priori predictions about universal as well as culturally relative effects of conceptual color associations on cognition and behavior to be systematically tested.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
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©American Psychological Association, 2019. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000703
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?? psychology(all)experimental and cognitive psychologydevelopmental neuroscience ??
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Deposited On:
14 Oct 2019 14:06
Last Modified:
27 Feb 2024 01:40