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The relationship between color-object associations and color preference: further investigation of Ecological Valence Theory

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 18:37 authored by Chloe Taylor, Anna FranklinAnna Franklin
Ecological valence theory (EVT; Palmer & Schloss, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:8877–8882, 2010) proposes that color preferences are due to affective responses to color-associated objects: That is, people generally like colors to the degree that they like the objects associated with those colors. Palmer and Schloss found that the average valence of objects associated with a color, when weighted by how well the objects matched the color (weighted affective valence estimates: WAVE) explained 80% of the variation in preference across colors. Here, we replicated and extended Palmer and Schloss’s investigation to establish whether color–object associations can account for sex differences in color preference and whether the relationship between associated objects and color preference is equally strong for males and females. We found some degree of sex specificity to the WAVEs, but the relationship between WAVE and color preference was significantly stronger for males than for females (74% shared variance for males, 45% for females). Furthermore, analyses identified a significant inverse relationship between the number of objects associated with a color and preference for the color. Participants generally liked colors associated with few objects and disliked colors associated with many objects. For the sample overall and for females alone, this association was not significantly weaker than the association of the WAVE and preference. The success of the WAVE at capturing color preference was partly due to the relationship between the number of associated objects and color preference. The findings identify constraints of EVT in its current form, but they also provide general support for the link between color preference and color–object associations


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  • Published


Psychonomic Bulletin and Review




Springer Verlag





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  • Psychology Publications

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