Colors

What’s your favorite color? It’s such a simple question, but we still aren’t sure why people answer the way they do.

That said, psychologists have made some interesting discoveries while researching what drives people’s color preferences. Here are 3 things you might not know about why people like some colors more than others.

  •  Color preferences are seasonal: Have you been inexplicably feeling really good about the color orange lately? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! It turns out people’s color preferences change with the seasons. The effect is especially pronounced for colors like dark red, dark orange and dark yellow, which people like best during the fall.
  • Your gender influences your color preferences, and so do the genders of your kids: In the United States, men like blue more than women do on average while women feel better about pink, purple and red. The gender difference in color preferences becomes more extreme when people have only sons: men with all sons like blue even more, and women with all sons are especially partial to pink.
  • The school you go to and the websites you visit can change what your favorite colors are: After a few years at Big Red University, you might find that you start to feel more fond of the color red than you used to – that’s according to a study that showed college students end up liking the colors of their own schools more than those of their rivals. A similar effect may exist for problematic internet users, who tend to pick the color most common in the websites they browse when asked to choose a color after having their internet access taken away. More generally, what we associate colors with changes how much we like those colors, as evidenced by the fact that people update their color preferences after they encounter an object they like or dislike of a certain color.

None of these studies straight-up answers the question “why do people like some colors more than others?” But all of them suggest that our color preferences are influenced by our experiences and that our preferences change as our associations with different colors do. In other words, go out and enjoy the autumn hues while you can because your love of orange might not last!

Image: Flickr/ckmck under CC BY 2.0