Why are we attracted to the colors we like?

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Izzy Rivera

Staff Writer


We all know one of the classical questions someone asks when getting to know others is “What is your favorite color?”. Some, not all, take deeper interest in the answer to this question, as it shows insight into the other person’s likes and thought processes. For example, stereotypically pink is described to be a feminine color and people make assumptions off of that, or orange is a vibrant color and people can assume the person is energetic. It’s interesting how some dream of having a neon green car when others couldn’t even imagine it. Our favorite color choices dictate what we wear, what we buy, and it is all subconsciously done without us acting upon it. When it comes down to it though, where do our color preferences come from ?

A quick Google search will bring up multiple articles but the one on Psychology Today answers this question quite well. They use an example of a study that two psychologists did, specifically Stephen Palmer and Karen Schloss of UC Berkeley, in an article published in 2010 that was titled Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. They were trying to test the theory that human color preference is adaptive, meaning people will overall be more happy and successful if they are surrounded by objects that look good to them while avoiding the not so good. After much trial testing of showing different groups of people different color swatches on different backgrounds and then asking them to associate the colors with objects, observations were made.

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It is seen that cultural background has an influence on color preference, meaning which country is from can change their subconscious color choices. It was also shown that once an object was associated with a color, others subconsciously did the same, and therefore everyone had a certain feeling about a color because it reminded them of an object. For example, if someone associates red with a sweet, juicy, flavorful apple, their reaction to that color is positive. Color is also so ditative in this aspect because if your favorite candy is blue but they change it to brown, even though the flavor is exactly the same the color is different, you still won’t like the candy nearly as much anymore. If you have previously bought a black hoodie and it has become your favorite piece of clothing, your brain finds comfort in other clothing of that color, and gravitates towards that.

Keeping all these theories in mind it is fascinating to come full circle and look within yourself of what colors you like and why. Did you have a really nice green pair of shoes and now everything you own has a touch of green in it? Did you enjoy a nice red apple and now the foods you like are overall more red? The question of “What is your favorite color?” has now become even deeper and more interesting to talk about and can tell a lot about someone’s likes and dislikes. 

Article Mentioned: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-brain/201104/why-we-prefer-certain-colors


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