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Colors Trigger Same Feelings Around the World, New Study Finds

Colors Trigger Same Feelings Around the World, New Study Finds

Wednesday, 16 September, 2020 - 06:30
A girl reacts as colored water is thrown on her face while celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors, in Mumbai, India, on March 13, 2017.

A new study published this week has found that colors trigger same feelings among people around the world. For example, throughout the world the color of red is strongly associated with love and anger, while yellow is associated with the emotion of joy.

Brown, on the other hand, triggers the fewest emotions globally, the new study showed. "The study revealed a significant global consensus on this matter," said researcher Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel, associate professor at the Institute of Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.

This was the result of a detailed survey of around 4,600 participants from 30 nations over six continents. The participants were asked to assign up to 20 emotions to twelve different color terms.

The researchers then calculated the national averages for the data and compared these with the worldwide average. "No similar study of this scope has ever been carried out," said Oberfeld-Twistel.

In their study published in the Psychological Science journal, the researchers noted that there are some national peculiarities.

For example, the color of white is much more closely associated with sadness in China than it is in other countries, and the same applies to purple in Greece. "This may be because in China white clothing is worn at funerals and the color dark purple is used in the Greek Orthodox Church during periods of mourning," suggested Oberfeld-Twistel.

According to the findings, the differences between individual nations are greater the more they are geographically separated and/or the greater the differences between the languages spoken in them. The climate may also play a role. For instance, yellow tends to be more closely associated with the emotion of joy in countries that see less sunshine, than in the sunny countries.

It is currently difficult to say exactly what the causes for global similarities and differences are. "There is a range of possible influencing factors: language, culture, religion, climate, the history of human development, and the human perceptual system," highlighted Oberfeld-Twistel, adding that many fundamental questions have yet to be clarified.

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