A cross-cultural comparison of colour emotion for two-colour combinations

Li Chen Ou, M. Ronnier Luo, Pei Li Sun, Neng Chung Hu, Hung Shing Chen, Shing Sheng Guan, Andrée Woodcock, José Luis Caivano, Rafael Huertas, Alain Treméau, Monica Billger, Hossein Izadan, Klaus Richter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Psychophysical experiments were conducted in the UK, Taiwan, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Argentina, and Iran to assess colour emotion for two-colour combinations using semantic scales warm/cool, heavy/light, active/passive, and like/dislike. A total of 223 observers participated, each presented with 190 colour pairs as the stimuli, shown individually on a cathode ray tube display. The results show consistent responses across cultures only for warm/cool, heavy/light, and active/passive. The like/dislike scale, however, showed some differences between the observer groups, in particular between the Argentinian responses and those obtained from the other observers. Factor analysis reveals that the Argentinian observers preferred passive colour pairs to active ones more than the other observers. In addition to the cultural difference in like/dislike, the experimental results show some effects of gender, professional background (design vs. nondesign), and age. Female observers were found to prefer colour pairs with high-lightness or low-chroma values more than their male counterparts. Observers with a design background liked low-chroma colour pairs or those containing colours of similar hue more than nondesign observers. Older observers liked colour pairs with high-lightness or high-chroma values more than young observers did. Based on the findings, a two-level theory of colour emotion is proposed, in which warm/cool, heavy/light, and active/passive are identified as the reactive-level responses and like/dislike the reflective-level response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalColor Research and Application
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • age effect
  • colour emotion
  • colour preference
  • cultural difference
  • design training
  • gender difference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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