Thesis Title

A Cross-Cultural Perspective of the Perception of Color as it Relates to Affect

Graduation Date

Spring 1997

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


This study investigates the emotional associations that three of the largest populations residing in the USA have to color. To explore the similarities and differences in responses to color by Mexican. Chinese, and U S bon populations, a survey was designed and administered to thirty college students font each of the three cultures. The survey asked the respondents to match nine colors and thirteen emotional categories to each other, and to indicate whether these associations were positive or negative. The data from these surveys were then compared using a Chi- square test for all comparisons. Gender differences across culture and within culture were also explored. The results of these comparisons indicate that there is a significant difference m the way that each of the cultures and the genders within the cultures respond to color. In addition, there was no significant difference among cultures or between genders as to the direction of emotional response to color. This study contributes to previous research on the relationship of color and affect, and to research done on perceptual and perspective cultural variations. Although some of the results of this study point to common trends among the cultures, enough variation in response was found to challenge the existing body of literature regarding the universal attribution of affect in the color domain.