Infographic: Cultured Colors

We’ve all experienced the question (and perhaps suffered some internal exasperation every time): “What’s you favorite color?” Ugh. There are so many hues. Rarely can I answer that dreaded question without qualifying it in some fashion, such as, “yellow…but not just any yellow…not ‘school bus’ yellow…more like ‘goldenrod’ yellow…I think…”

But when we are little, our color choices are very narrowed to a much simpler pallet, and it’s difficult now to imagine how very many possible associations attach themselves to each of those archetypal hues. Even as children, our choice of favorite color is a complicated one, though its complexity may not be very evident to our young minds. Our experiences shape our choices, and our experiences are most certainly influenced by the opinions of others.

Different societies and cultures affect their members’ psychology and, thus, their associations with various hues. It is a popular topic (as I’m sure you are aware).

But here is a delightfully different and succinct take on the psychology of color: its variations between cultures. Designed by David McCandless (a London-based author, writer and designer) and Always With Honor (a design company based in Portland, Oregon).


Some color associations are surprisingly varied, like Love:
Western/American: Red
Japanese: Red
Hindu: Green
Native American: Yellow
Easern European: Red
African: Blue

and Death:
Western/American: Black
Japanese: Black
Hindu: White
Native American: Black
Chinese: White
Muslim: Silver
South American: Green

Other categories stand out because the color associations were the same. Passion, for example, is red, and Purity is white (and a little silver).

However, one particularly interesting aspect here is that no one category is completely filled and no one culture has a color associated with every category. This gives rise to a few questions…

  1. Could one draw any conclusions from the presence/lack of color choice about the category’s position in the culture? Does its lack of color association point to a peoples’ stance on that category, its importance in their lives or how embedded it is in their worldviews?
  2. Does this chart show us that no one category has a universal color associated with it? The chart only shows one color for each…is the color association discounted if it was actually boiled down to two hues?
  3. What myths or symbols or histories gave birth to these various associations?
  4. How, if at all, did one culture’s color choices affect those of another culture?
  5. Oh–and where did the designers find this data??

Anyway, it’s a neat infographic! If you want to buy it poster-style, click here!

Oh, and the title image is from McCandless‘s website 🙂

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