September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Symbolic Effects on Color Preferences in China and the US
Author Affiliations
  • Stephen Palmer
    Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley
  • Karen Schloss
    Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences, Brown University
  • Tianquan Guo
    Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley
  • Vivian Wung
    Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley
  • Kaiping Peng
    Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley Psychology Department, Tsinghua University
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 1312. doi:10.1167/15.12.1312
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      Stephen Palmer, Karen Schloss, Tianquan Guo, Vivian Wung, Kaiping Peng; Symbolic Effects on Color Preferences in China and the US. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1312. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1312.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

We investigated a prediction of the Ecological Valence Theory (EVT; Palmer & Schloss, 2010) that differences in people’s color preferences can be explained in part by their preferences for ecological objects. We measured preferences for 32 chromatic colors in China and the US and found both similarities – e.g., a maximum around saturated-blue and a minimum around brown (dark-orange) and olive (dark-yellow) – and various differences. To test the EVT’s cross-cultural prediction, we measured object-based Weighted Affective Valence Estimates (O-WAVEs) from people’s liking/disliking ratings of color-associated objects separately in China and the US. Consistent with EVT predictions, O-WAVEs measured in the US correlated more highly with US preferences (.89) than with Chinese preferences (.63), but contrary to EVT predictions, O-WAVEs measured in China correlated less highly with Chinese preferences (.59) than with US preferences (.78). We hypothesized that the discrepancy might arise from symbolic effects on color preference in China (e.g., red is the color of good-fortune). To test this hypothesis, we performed analogous symbolic S-WAVE measurements from people’s liking/disliking ratings of color-associated symbols and abstract concepts separately in China and the US. In China, symbolic S-WAVEs correlated better with color preferences (.76) than did object-based O-WAVEs (.59), with combined C-WAVEs correlating highest of all (.80). In the US, both symbolic S-WAVEs and combined C-WAVEs correlated worse with color preferences (.58 and .75, respectively) than did object-based O-WAVEs (.89). We discuss these differences as reflecting greater cultural “melting pot” effects that dilute color symbolism in the US more than in China.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015

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