Thesis Title

The Effect of Momentary Emotional States on Color Response Patterns

Graduation Date

Spring 1993

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 paper addresses the question whether emotional responses to colors are universal, learned, or personalized and affected by the momentary feelings experienced by the individual at the sampling time. An assessment tool called the Personified Color Dictionary (PCD) was applied to assess the degree of relativity of colors with respect to momentary emotional stimuli. Administration of photographs were used as a means to elicit feelings. The PCD was administered to 10 female and 10 male subjects to compare initial color-word matches with those made after the actuation of the feelings. In the first phase of the test, colors were matched to words. In the second phase words were linked to the pictures prior to being matched to colors. A scoring method was adopted for each individual color whereby 1 means no change in the color selection pattern between the two phases (null hypothesis), x means indeterminate, and 0 means the color selection pattern has changed between the two phases. Statistically meaningful differences between color-word mappings in the two phases were established. Out of the 220 tested color-word mapping samples, 11 samples yielded indeterminate results and 92 samples exhibited no change in the color selection pattern between the two phases, i.e. for 117 samples a change in the color selection pattern was associated with exposure to photographs. The statistical analysis yielded a 1 % confidence interval of 0.47