An Ecological Valence Theory of Human Color Preferences

Abstract

Although color preference is an important aspect of human behavior, little is known about why people like some colors more than others. In this paper we probe this issue both theoretically and empirically. First, we discuss Hurlbert and Ling’s (2007) cone-contrast theory, which posits a physiological explanation based on opponent cone outputs and gender differences. We then present an ecological valence theory that color preferences reflect people’s cumulative emotional responses to environmental objects/events strongly associated with particular colors. Finally, we present data that challenge Hurlbert and Ling’s model on multiple counts and support an ecological valence approach.


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