Thesis Title

A Research Project on Mood and Color Choice in Children With Autism

Graduation Date

Spring 1999

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


Elaine L. Cohen, EdD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Roberta Hauser, MA, ATR-BC


The following research was undertaken to see if there is a relationship between mood and colors chosen in the art of children with autism. Prior research shows a relationship between the following colors and moods; the color Red corresponds with feelings of anger, the color Yellow corresponds with feelings of joy or happiness, and the color Blue was related to a calm or sad mood. No research was found on autism in reference to color, however research on autism and mood was plentiful. Patterns in research showed a tendency for expressions of emotion to be either flat or negative, and when happiness was observed it was while these individuals were playing alone. The present research study involves four participants from a non-public school based agency. These individuals were chosen on the basis of their age, between 5-8 years, and their diagnosis of Autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Mood and choice of color were assessed through an art session involving choosing a color of paper, and choosing the colors of paint or markers. The findings show a preference for Red in both paper and medium overall. These findings correspond with research involving preschool children who because of their impulsivity at that age are attracted to the vibrancy of the color Red. More research needs to be done on mood and color choice. The findings showed individuals were mostly in a happy mood so varying moods did not occur much to notice a contrast in color choice.