Claims of universality pervade color preference research. It has been argued that there are universal preferences for some colors over others (e.g., Eysenck, 1941), universal sex differences (e.g., Hurlbert & Ling, 2007), and universal mechanisms or dimensions that govern these preferences (e.g., Palmer & Schloss, 2010). However, there have been surprisingly few cross-cultural investigations of color preference and none from nonindustrialized societies that are relatively free from the common influence of global consumer culture. Here, we compare the color preferences of British adults to those of Himba adults who belong to a nonindustrialized culture in rural Namibia. British and Himba color preferences are found to share few characteristics, and Himba color preferences display none of the so-called “universal” patterns or sex differences. Several significant predictors of color preference are identified, such as cone-contrast between stimulus and background (Hurlbert & Ling, 2007), the valence of color-associated objects (Palmer & Schloss, 2010), and the colorfulness of the color. However, the relationship of these predictors to color preference was strikingly different for the two cultures. No one model of color preference is able to account for both British and Himba color preferences. We suggest that not only do patterns of color preference vary across individuals and groups but the underlying mechanisms and dimensions of color preference vary as well. The findings have implications for broader debate on the extent to which our perception and experience of color is culturally relative or universally constrained.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General – American Psychological Association
Published: Nov 12, 2013
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