Children's emotional associations with colors

J Genet Psychol. 1994 Mar;155(1):77-85. doi: 10.1080/00221325.1994.9914760.


In this study children's emotional associations with colors were investigated. Sixty children (30 girls, 30 boys), equally divided into groups of 5-year-olds and 6 1/2-year-olds, were asked their favorite color and were then shown nine different colors, one at a time and in a random order. For each color, children were asked, "How does (the color) make you feel?" All children were able to verbally express an emotional response to each color, and 69% of children's emotional responses were positive (e.g., happiness, excitement). Responses also demonstrated distinct color-emotion associations. Children had positive reactions to bright colors (e.g., pink, blue, red) and negative emotions for dark colors (e.g., brown, black, gray). Children's emotional reactions to bright colors became increasingly positive with age, and girls in particular showed a preference for brighter colors and a dislike for darker colors. Boys were more likely than girls were to have positive emotional associations with dark colors. Potential sources for children's color-emotion concepts, such as gender-related and idiosyncratic experiences, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Color Perception*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Verbal Behavior