August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Cross-Cultural Studies of Color Preferences: US, Japan, and Mexico
Author Affiliations
  • Kazuhiko Yokosawa
    Department of Psychology, The University of Tokyo
  • Natsumi Yano
    Department of Psychology, The University of Tokyo
  • Karen B. Schloss
    Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Lilia R. Prado-Leòn
    Ergonomics Research Center, University of Guadalajara
  • Stephen E. Palmer
    Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 408. doi:
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      Kazuhiko Yokosawa, Natsumi Yano, Karen B. Schloss, Lilia R. Prado-Leòn, Stephen E. Palmer; Cross-Cultural Studies of Color Preferences: US, Japan, and Mexico. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):408.

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

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Consistent with Schloss and Palmer's (VSS-2009) Ecological Valence Theory (EVT) of color preference, 80% of the variance in average American preferences for 32 chromatic colors was explained by the Weighted Affective Valence Estimate (WAVE) of American preferences for the objects that are characteristically those colors. To test predictions of the EVT cross-culturally, corresponding color preferences and ecological WAVE measures were collected in Japan and Mexico for the same 32 colors. American participants showed a broad preference for cool over warm hues, an aversion to dark orange (brown) and dark yellow (olive), and greater preference for more saturated than less saturated colors. Japanese participants showed similar preferences for cool over warm colors, dislike for brown and olive, and high preference for saturated colors, but a greater preference for light colors (pastels) and a lesser preference for dark colors relative to Americans. Mexican participants showed the same aversion to brown and olive, but liked warm and cool colors about equally and tended to like both light and saturated colors less than American and Japanese participants. The WAVEs in each culture were computed from the results of the same three-part procedure: eliciting object descriptions for each of the 32 colors, rating the similarity of the presented color to the colors of the described objects, and rating the affective valence (degree of liking) of each described object. The WAVE for each color is the average valence over objects weighted by the average similarity of the given color to the described object. American WAVEs predict American preferences (r=.89) better than Japanese (r=.77) or Mexican preferences (r=.54). Similarly, Japanese WAVEs predict Japanese color preferences (r=.66) better than American preferences (r=.55) or Mexican preferences (r=.29). These findings are consistent with the EVT, which predicts that culturally specific WAVEs should predict within-culture preferences better than between-culture preferences.

Yokosawa, K. Yano, N. Schloss, K. B. Prado-Leòn, L. R. Palmer, S. E. (2010). Cross-Cultural Studies of Color Preferences: US, Japan, and Mexico [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):408, 408a,, doi:10.1167/10.7.408. [CrossRef]
 National Science Foundation Grant BCS-0745820.

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