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Cultural associations for color

     
7:59 am on Mar 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

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The Software Usability Research Laboratory has posted a table about cultural associations for colors [psychology.wichita.edu].

Some very interesting things to note when aiming for that international audience. For example, in France, green is associated not with safety, but criminality!

12:09 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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phew!

great find...looks like I may have to rethink our blue and white design for Japan

6:39 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I'd take it with a grain of salt though... As an American, I think the whole yeallow/cowardice thing is kinda silly. Sure, it's a turn of phrase, but I'd hazard a guess that most Americans tend to think more sunny/cheerful with yellow than "yellow-bellied coward."

I don't know enough about current pop culture in other countries to speak for them, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the color associations given are similarly corny/outdated... especially if your site is aiming more towards the 40's and under crowd.

7:33 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I read as a kid that psychologicaly(¿) we (all¿) associate yellow 'as a colour' with the sun, it normally appears at it's given distance (red looks closer, blue has no distance) and appears to radiate power. Old stuff but written by a specialist of the 50's. Got me interested anyways....
7:49 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Remember, it is a ten year old study. A lot can change in that amount of time.
8:14 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I just searched for the original research papers and came up empty handed on colour, yet found stuff related to symbols.....
ANyone know where to find the colour referneces?
9:50 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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It also depends on what type of products are being sold, the target market in a given industry, and what current trends are.

At one time, hunter green carpeting was in vogue, then other times beiges, then grey and even mauve was big once. For home decor, yellow/orange sunny tones sold well with bedroom sheets, then bold, then pastels.

For those who are into primitive design, dull browns and earthtones will always be workable, for Victorian - hunter green, burgundy and mauve will remain standard. Same with jewelry - shades of grey with "dressy" dark colors interspersed will have a designer/Tiffany's type look, while fun stuff will need bold colors.

Designing a site can probably be more geared to the product itself, with pricing considerations and potential market targeted rather than geographical associations. A site for luxury items can't be designed the same as a bargain bin site, and color choice is only one of the factors. Along with the "voice" of the text, it's one of the blend of ingredients that sends the message.

What could be regional is area-specific targeting.

10:20 pm on Mar 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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IMHO 'Russo and Boor' seem to be talking about the colour of 'things' as opposed to colour in general. I tend to think you can evoke certain base emotions with certain colours used as backgrounds. Perhaps, with a few exceptions, I think these colours would always set a certain frame of mind. They (I learned) draw on a primeaval learning system related to survival, can't remember the details. Found it interesting though.