How do people from different cultures associate colours with certain words?

Posted on 2017-12-19 - link

Ivar Jung

Ivar Jung

An exciting new comparative study between colour associations and 26 words in 10 different countries is conducted by our member Ivar Jung, Dept. of Design, Linnaeus University, Sweden.

The aim of this research is to investigate if there are distinctive patterns - similarities and differences - in how subjects from different cultures associate words with colours. The 24 words tested in this study are: warm, cold, sorrow, happiness, calm, upset, near, distant, young, old, feminine, masculine, fast, slow, strong, weak, false, true, cheap, expensive, friendly, dangerous, me, others, health and sickness.

The countries represented in this study are located in different parts of the world, with different cultures and religious traditions. From each country, there are two groups of subjects, one group is a general mix of people who are not working with colours in their professional life. Another group consists of students of art and design or other colour trained persons. It will be possible to compare the answers from these two groups separately.

Design students and laypersons are given 26 words in their native language. They are asked to assign each word to a colour from a chart with 27 selected colours from the NCS atlas. The results will be analyzed in terms of how coherent the answers are and potential patterns that emerge specific to the countries, and their cultural contexts. It should be also possible to examine if there are differences in the chosen colours related to the subjects’ sex, age, experience of colour and religion.

The results of this study will be presented at future AIC conferences. Please feel free to contact Ivar Jung if you are interested in contributing in his study.


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