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Color preferences are not universal

Taylor, C, Clifford, A and Franklin, A (2012) Color preferences are not universal Journal of Experimental Psychology General.

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Claims of universality pervade color preference research. It has been argued that there are universal preferences for some colors over others (e.g., Eysenck, 1941), universal sex differences (e.g., Hurlbert & Ling, 2007), and universal mechanisms or dimensions that govern these preferences (e.g., Palmer & Schloss, 2010). However, there have been surprisingly few cross-cultural investigations of color preference and none from nonindustrialized societies that are relatively free from the common influence of global consumer culture. Here, we compare the color preferences of British adults to those of Himba adults who belong to a nonindustrialized culture in rural Namibia. British and Himba color preferences are found to share few characteristics, and Himba color preferences display none of the so-called “universal” patterns or sex differences. Several significant predictors of color preference are identified, such as cone-contrast between stimulus and background (Hurlbert & Ling, 2007), the valence of color-associated objects (Palmer & Schloss, 2010), and the colorfulness of the color. However, the relationship of these predictors to color preference was strikingly different for the two cultures. No one model of color preference is able to account for both British and Himba color preferences. We suggest that not only do patterns of color preference vary across individuals and groups but the underlying mechanisms and dimensions of color preference vary as well. The findings have implications for broader debate on the extent to which our perception and experience of color is culturally relative or universally constrained.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Taylor, C
Clifford, A
Franklin, A
Date : 12 November 2012
DOI : 10.1037/a0030273
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an electronic version of an article published as Taylor C, Clifford A, Franklin A (2012). Color preferences are not universal. Journal of Experimental Psychology General. Available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 15 Jan 2013 16:10
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:47

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