Showing Your True Colors

Posted by Anthony Mango Friday, May 15, 2009

"Did everything just taste purple for a second?" - Philip J. Fry, Futurama

Have you ever associated a color with something that officially has no color? Naturally, if you think of an apple, you'll recall the colors red and/or green. If you think of wood, you'll recall brown. Lights are white and yellow, water is blue, and so forth. Its highly unlikely that someone would think of the color black, rather than silver, when staring at a stainless steel utensil, and thusly, it doesn't apply to this topic as its cheating. But what about the things that you can't actually see?

Every so often, I find that my subconscious draws a correlation between certain free-floating concepts and colors. For instance, I tend to associate the song "Live With Me" by Massive Attack with a dark shade of hunter green. "Baba O'Riley" by The Who immediately provokes a light blue shade in my head. When I think of the word "warp", the predominant color is purple. And if someone asked me to draw a painting of the emotion "fear", I'd basically fill the page up with reds, yellows, and blacks.

This may seem a bit foreign, but try it out for yourself. Go on a random word generator website (or ask someone to just spit out some words or phrases to you at random) and write down the first color that you think of when you hear that. Then continue reading.

Psychologists have studied what colors evoke what attributes for us, and oddly enough, it appears as though there are some rather widespread and almost universal reactions. The word "trust". Which color did you just think of? Most likely, you answered either white or blue. What color is the letter A? Most people with Grapheme-color synesthesia (when someone feels as though letters or numbers have a connection to certain colors) would answer red. When asked to assign a color to the words "cheap" and inexpensive, as well as when simply asked what their least favorite color was, brown, orange, and yellow dominate. If you're looking for something that is of high quality and reliable, look for black and blue to be the answer.

More to come about color psychology at another time...

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