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The test for color population stereotypes was performed at Dresden University with 90 subjects from Germany (37 males and 53 females). They were asked to associate 13 pairs of opposite terms and 27 colors selected from the Natural Color System (NCS). For 23 terms we found significant associations (p=0.0001) with at least one color. Unique color associations among the German participants were revealed especially for the concepts sorrow, upset, distant, friendly, cheap, and expensive. The primary hues red, blue and yellow yielded the greatest number of associations. Saturated shades occurred more frequently than light and dark ones.
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1
Yulia A. Griber
Doctor of Cultural Studies, Professor of the Department of Social Studies and
Philosophy, Smolensk State University, Smolensk, Russia
E-mail: y.griber@gmail.com
Ivar L. Jung
Master of Science in Architecture, Senior lecturer, Linnaeus University,
Kalmar, Sweden
E-mail: ivar.jung@lnu.se
Ralf Weber
PhD, Professor of Architecture, Chair of Institute for Spatial Design,
Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany
E-mail: ralf.weber@tu-dresden.de
Color associations: Germany as a case study
Abstract
The test for color population stereotypes was performed at Dresden
University with 90 subjects from Germany (37 males and 53 females). They
were asked to associate 13 pairs of opposite terms and 27 colors selected
from the Natural Color System (NCS). For 23 terms we found significant
associations (p=0.0001) with at least one color. Unique color associations
among the German participants were revealed especially for the concepts
sorrow, upset, distant, friendly, cheap, and expensive. The primary hues red,
blue and yellow yielded the greatest number of associations. Saturated
shades occurred more frequently than light and dark ones.
2
Key words
population stereotypes, perception, associations, color, color connotations,
Germany, experiment, social and cultural differences.
Introduction
Research has indicated that individuals often associate various terms with
colors (see e.g.: [1]). Some color connotations are thought to be universal. In
particular, across cultures red is considered hot and intense and blue is
strongly associated with peacefulness and calm [13]. At the same time,
numerous studies have demonstrated cultural differences in color meanings
and associations (see e.g.: [49]).
While there is a long history of experimental researching the meanings of
color in German culture (see e.g.: [1011]), the most previous studies used a
limited set of verbal stimuli, that included no more than eleven basic color
terms found in Berlin and Kay’s study on color names in various languages
[12].
In this paper we are seeking to overcome the outlined limitations of the
previous investigations and report a study examining how an extended set of
visual color stimuli with different hue, lightness and saturation, originally
developed by Ivar Jung [13], were associated with specific concepts by
subjects from Germany.
Materials and method
Participants. 90 participants (37 males and 53 females) with a mean age of
22 years (ranging from 18 to 60) who were born and reside in Germany,
completed the survey at Dresden University in February 2018. None of the
participants had any problems with color vision.
3
Procedure. Data were collected in an experiment that previously was
performed by Ivar Jung in 20152016 during a pilot stage in Sweden (N=70)
and Nepal (N=77) [13], and in 2017 was conducted in Uganda (N=70) and
Russia (N=70) [1415].
Experiment participants were presented 13 pairs of opposites: warmcold,
sorrowhappiness, calmupset, neardistant, youngold, feminine
masculine, fastslow, strongweak, falsetrue, cheapexpensive, friendly
dangerous, healthysick, meothers. The stimulus concepts were selected
from previous research on color associations (e.g.: [2; 46]). Participants
were asked to match the best suited color associations for the given terms.
Color stimuli. The color chart of the experiment consisted of 27 samples,
selected from the Natural Color System (NCS). It included saturated shades
of four primary colors (Y yellow, R red, B blue, G green) and four
secondary colors (Y50R yellow-red, R50B purple, B50G blue-green,
G50Y green-yellow) (middle row in Table 1). Additionally, we included into
the chart one light (top row in Table 1) and one dark (bottom row in Table 1)
shade of every primary and secondary color, as well as three achromatic
colors white, grey, and black. Stimulus size was 3 by 5 centimeters. All
color samples were presented to participants at the same time under
standard daylight illumination.
Table 1. Color samples of the experiment
4
Results and discussion
The collocation of 27 colors and 26 concepts composes a 702-cell matrix
(Table 2).
Table 2. Percentage associations to each concept
The 2,340 responses of the experiment participants filled in the cells,
unevenly distributed. One third of all the matrix cells (237) remained empty:
none of the participants connected the provided concepts with a particular
color. Another one third of matches (213) referred to single instances, since
they appeared only by one or maximum two participants and thus cannot be
considered relevant. The majority of weak associations lay in the red-blue
(RB), green (G), and blue-green (BG) regions of the color spectrum. Thus,
only the remaining one third (252) from all the matrix cells were of interest for
the color association analysis (Figure 1).
5
Figure 1. The results of associative connections of shades
Chi-square tests performed for each of the twenty-six concepts showed that
twenty-three of them were associated significantly with at least one color at
the 0.0001 level of significance (df. 26). The concepts calm, slow, and me did
not have particular associated colors (Table 3).
Table 3. The most significant associations
Concept
Stimulus
Color name
Percentage (%)
В3
Orange
46,7
В4
Red
25,6
Cold
А6
Light-blue
58,9
Sorrow
С5
Dark-purple
14,4
Happiness
В2
Yellow
41,1
В3
Orange
25,6
В2
Yellow
18,9
В4
Red
18,9
В5
Purple
18,9
Near
В4
Red
31,1
Distant
А6
Light-blue
25,6
Young
А4
Pink
16,7
6
С3
Dark-orange
26,7
С2
Brown
18,9
Feminine
А4
Pink
45,6
С6
Dark-blue
32,2
В6
Blue
24,4
Fast
В2
Yellow
26,7
С1
Black
24,4
В4
Red
23,3
Weak
А2
Light-yellow
17,8
False
В4
Red
35,6
True
В8
Green
27,8
Cheap
А5
Light-purple
15,6
Expensive
С1
Black
18,9
Friendly
В2
Yellow
24,4
Dangerous
В4
Red
38,9
Health
В8
Green
18,9
Sick
С9
Dark-yellow-green
22,2
Others
В1
Gray
15,6
Across 90 observers, each color sample used in this study was chosen up to
6 times (on average 0.97 times, SD = 0.43). 10 of 27 shades were selected
more frequently than others (>10% of choices). These are two shades of red
(B4 and A4) and yellow-red (B3 and A3), three shades of blue (A6, B6, and
C6), together with bright yellow (B2), bright yellow-green (B9) and black (C1)
(Figure 2).
7
Figure 2. The total number of associations of 27 color samples
The number of associated terms varied with color. Red (B4) and light-yellow
(A2) elicited the highest number of concept associations (20), while dark-
orange (C3) the lowest (12).
Color associations had different intensities. The highest intensity of
associations was revealed for light-blue (A6) with cold (59%), orange (B3)
with warm (47%), pink (A4) with feminine (46%), yellow (B2) with happiness
(41%). The lowest intensity of associated notions (<10%) had light, saturated
and dark blue-green (A7, B7, C7), light and dark green (A8, C8).
In accordance with previous findings [4; 6], the primary hues yielded the
greatest number of associations. The most popular were shades of red (R)
(16%), blue (B) and yellow (Y) (both 14%) colors (Figure 3, left), summing to
a total of almost half (44%) of the concepts tested.
The distribution of associations between the groups of shades with different
lightness showed that saturated colors (group B) occurred most frequently
(Figure 3, right).
8
Figure 3. Associations with hue (left) and groups of shades (right)
Additionally, we analyzed the correlation between the terms and three
achromatic colors white, grey and black (Figure 4). Achromatic colors were
chosen in one tenth of all responses (9,5%). We revealed significant
achromatic color associations only for two concepts strong and expensive
were linked with black (24,4% and 18,9% respectively).
Figure 4. Associations with achromatic shades
To reveal the culture specific associations the outcome for the German
sample was compared to Swedish (N=70) [13; 14] and Russian (N=70)
samples [14; 15].
9
The results showed unique color associations (with value divergence more
than 15%) among the Germans especially for the concepts sorrow, upset,
distant, and friendly (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Color associations for the concepts
sorrow, upset, distant, and friendly
10
In addition, for the pair of opposite concepts cheapexpensive a statistically
significant difference was revealed in German sub-sample between the
groups of shades (Figure 6). The great majority of participants (88%) chose
color shades from different groups to denote the opposite concepts. More
than a half of them (52%) matched the terms with the shades from
neighboring groups: brilliant (B) with one concept, and light or dark (A or C)
with the other one. More than a third of the participants (36%) connected
the terms with extremely contrasting shades: light (A) and dark (C).
Figure 6. Associations with the groups of shades
for the concepts cheap and expensive
11
Conclusions
This experiment yielded the following results.
First, our findings affirm that there are consistent patterns in color choices for
concepts within the German sample, showing that participants were making
non-random color-concept matches.
Second, the use of an extended set of visual color stimuli allowed us to
conduct a quantitative analysis of the chromatic structure of the concepts. We
were able to specify hue, lightness and saturation of shades forming color
associations and to visualize chromatic images related to these concepts in
German sample.
This experiment is part of a series of experiments with color associations,
which were performed in a number of countries hitherto. In further tests, a
specified neutral background (NCS S 0500-N) will be chosen.
The results could be valuable in finding out whether there are commonalities
in the association of color with certain adjectives describing moods. The
results might be further of interest in compiling topical dictionaries and
reference books, teaching activities, as well as contributing to a great
spectrum of practical tasks in architecture, design and advertising
communication.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge Berit Bergström and her team at
Natural Color System for colour samples. Yulia A. Griber was funded by
«Dresden Senior Fellowship Program», according to the project F-003661-
553-Ü1D-1150506.
12
References
1. Elliot A. J., Maier M. A. Color psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on
Psychological Functioning in Humans // Annual Review of Psychology
2014. No. 65. P. 95-120.
2. Madden Th. J., Hewlett K., Roth M. S. Managing Images in Different
Cultures: A Cross-National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences //
Journal of International Marketing. 2000. Vol. 8, No. 4. P. 90-107.
3. Labrecque L. I., Milne G. R. Exciting Red and Competent Blue: the
Importance of Color in Marketing // Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science. 2012. Vol. 40, Iss. 5. P. 711-727.
4. Bergum B. O., Bergum J. E. Population Stereotypes: an Attempt to
Measure and Define // Proceedings of the Human Factors and
Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 1981. Vol. 25, Iss. 1. P. 662-
665.
5. Courtney A. J. Chinese Population Stereotypes: Color Associations //
Human Factors. 1986. Vol. 28 (1). P. 97-99.
6. Chan A. Y. S., Courtney A. J. Color Associations for Hong Kong Chinese
// International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. 2001. No. 28. P.
165-170.
7. Bradfield E. L. The Diversity of Color: An Analysis of Cross-Cultural Color
Symbolism. Honors Theses. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University,
2014. 24 p.
8. Jacobs L., Keown Ch., Worthley R., Ghymn K.-Il. Cross-Cultural Color
Comparisons: Global Marketers Beware // International Marketing Review.
1991. No. 8(3). P. 21-30.
9. Gage J. Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to
Abstraction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 335 p.
10. Hupka R. B., Zaleski Z., Otto J., Reidl L., Tarabrina N. V. The Colors of
Anger, Envy, Fear, and Jealousy // Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
1997. Vol. 28, Iss. 2. P. 156-171.
13
11. Akcay O. Product Color Choice and Meanings of Color: A Case of
Germany // International Journal of Business and Social Science. 2013.
Vol. 4, No. 14. P. 5-12.
12. Berlin B., Kay P. Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. 178 p.
13. Jung I. What are the Colours of the Words “Me” and “Others”? // Сolor in
Urban Life: Images, Objects and Spaces / ed. by I. C. Ivanovic.
Santiago: Asociación Chilena del Color, 2016. P. 188-191.
14. Jung I., Griber Y., Hanneburg J. What are the Colors of Health and
Sickness? // Being Color with Health. AIC Color 2017 Proceedings / ed.
by Y. J. Lee, J. Hwang, H. J. Suk, Y. K. Park. Jeju: KSCS, 2017.
OS17-3.
15. Griber Y., Jung I. Colors of Health and Sickness: Sociocultural Research
of Associative Connections // Society. Environment. Development.
2017. 4. P. 89-95.
Грибер Юлия Александровна
доктор культурологии, профессор кафедры социологии и философии,
Смоленский государственный университет, Смоленск, Россия
E-mail: y.griber@gmail.com
Юнг Ивар Л.
магистр архитектуры, старший преподаватель, Университет Линнеус,
Кальмар, Швеция
E-mail: ivar.jung@lnu.se
Ralf Weber
PhD, профессор факультета архитектуры, заведующий кафедрой
дизайна пространственной среды, Технический университет Дрездена,
14
Дрезден, Германия
E-mail: ralf.weber@tu-dresden.de
Цветовые ассоциации: кейс-стади Германии
Аннотация
В эксперименте Дрезденского университета по изучению
стереотипных представлений приняли участие 90 человек из
Германии (37 мужчин и 53 женщины). Участники должны были найти
наиболее подходящие цветовые ассоциации для 13 пар понятий.
Палитра эксперимента включала 27 оттенков системы NCS. Для 23
понятий были установлены статистически значимые ассоциации
(p=0.0001) как минимум с одним цветовым образцом. Специфическими
оказались цветовые ассоциации немецких участников с понятиями
грустный, беспокойный, далекий, безопасный, дешевый и дорогой.
Наибольшее количество значений респонденты связали с основными
цветами красным, синим, желтым. Насыщенные оттенки
выбирались более часто, чем светлые и темные.
Ключевые слова
социальные стереотипы, восприятие, ассоциации, цвет, цветовые
ассоциации, Германия, эксперимент, социокультурные различия.
Литература
1. Elliot A. J., Maier M. A. Color psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on
Psychological Functioning in Humans // Annual Review of Psychology
2014. No. 65. P. 95-120.
2. Madden Th. J., Hewlett K., Roth M. S. Managing Images in Different
Cultures: A Cross-National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences //
Journal of International Marketing. 2000. Vol. 8, No. 4. P. 90-107.
15
3. Labrecque L. I., Milne G. R. Exciting Red and Competent Blue: the
Importance of Color in Marketing // Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science. 2012. Vol. 40, Iss. 5. P. 711-727.
4. Bergum B. O., Bergum J. E. Population Stereotypes: an Attempt to
Measure and Define // Proceedings of the Human Factors and
Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 1981. Vol. 25, Iss. 1. P. 662-
665.
5. Courtney A. J. Chinese Population Stereotypes: Color Associations //
Human Factors. 1986. Vol. 28 (1). P. 97-99.
6. Chan A. Y. S., Courtney A. J. Color Associations for Hong Kong Chinese
// International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. 2001. No. 28. P.
165-170.
7. Bradfield E. L. The Diversity of Color: An Analysis of Cross-Cultural Color
Symbolism. Honors Theses. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University,
2014. 24 p.
8. Jacobs L., Keown Ch., Worthley R., Ghymn K.-Il. Cross-Cultural Color
Comparisons: Global Marketers Beware // International Marketing Review.
1991. No. 8(3). P. 21-30.
9. Gage J. Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to
Abstraction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. 335 p.
10. Hupka R. B., Zaleski Z., Otto J., Reidl L., Tarabrina N. V. The Colors of
Anger, Envy, Fear, and Jealousy // Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
1997. Vol. 28, Iss. 2. P. 156-171.
11. Akcay O. Product Color Choice and Meanings of Color: A Case of
Germany // International Journal of Business and Social Science. 2013.
Vol. 4, No. 14. P. 5-12.
12. Berlin B., Kay P. Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. 178 p.
16
13. Jung I. What are the Colours of the Words “Me” and “Others”? // Сolor in
Urban Life: Images, Objects and Spaces / ed. by I. C. Ivanovic.
Santiago: Asociación Chilena del Color, 2016. P. 188-191.
14. Jung I., Griber Y., Hanneburg J. What are the Colors of Health and
Sickness? // Being Color with Health. AIC Color 2017 Proceedings / ed.
by Y. J. Lee, J. Hwang, H. J. Suk, Y. K. Park. Jeju: KSCS, 2017.
OS17-3.
15. Griber Y., Jung I. Colors of Health and Sickness: Sociocultural Research
of Associative Connections // Society. Environment. Development.
2017. 4. P. 89-95.
... The method used in this research was previously performed in 2015-2016 during a pilot study in Sweden and Nepal (Jung 2016). Interim findings revealed in different countries were reported in a series of scientific publications in 2017-2018 (see e.g.: Jung et al. 2017;Griber and Jung 2017;Griber, Jung and Weber 2018). ...
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Color psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on Psychological Functioning in Humans // Annual Review of Psychology
  • A J Elliot
  • M A Maier
Elliot A. J., Maier M. A. Color psychology: Effects of Perceiving Color on Psychological Functioning in Humans // Annual Review of Psychology 2014.-No. 65.-P. 95-120.
Managing Images in Different Cultures: A Cross-National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences // Journal of International Marketing
  • . J Madden Th
  • K Hewlett
  • M S Roth
Madden Th. J., Hewlett K., Roth M. S. Managing Images in Different Cultures: A Cross-National Study of Color Meanings and Preferences // Journal of International Marketing. -2000. -Vol. 8, No. 4. -P. 90-107.