Why do we have favourite colours?

Rainbow by @Doug88888, on Flickr

Since you asked us Gurus to answer this, I’m assuming that you’d like an answer from a scientific viewpoint. Well, unfortunately we can’t point to a gene or food that determines what colours we like best – or at least, we couldn’t find any studies uncovering a “green lover” gene or a specific snack that would trigger your inner love for pink.

However, psychologists have put in quite a bit of effort into the study of colour preference and the reason behind it. For example, the order in which people prefer colours on average is:

  1. blue
  2. red
  3. green
  4. violet
  5. orange
  6. yellow

Blue appears to be the most popular favourite colour, but one study found that children -when placed in front of identical toys in different colours- preferred the red ones. But what exactly is it about a colour that makes us more attached to it than others?

The most popular theory has to do with the associations we draw with certain colours. For example, let’s say your favourite childhood toy was green. It might be that therefore your favourite colour is green as well. Or, that the colour yellow reminds you of pleasant things such as flowers, the sun, the beach, etc. and therefore the positive associations you have with that colour give you that preference.

The same could apply to the beliefs you have that come with colours. Like, if you think you look great in purple, you’ll perhaps find that that’s your favourite colour. You might also be influenced by what you see around you, and the way the products you buy are coloured. Blue tends to be portrayed as a neutral colour, but (for example) light blue and yellow are colours often used in marketing and packaging of products associated with freshness – such as deodorants, cleaning products, etc.

So unfortunately we can’t give you a conclusive answer, but perhaps a little psychoanalysis with regards to your favourite objects in your past and environment can give you some insight as to why that particular colour is your favourite!


Question from Leila via website

Answer by Dorothée Grevers

Article by Dorothée Grevers

October 25, 2013

Holding a BSc in Pre-Med and currently working on a BA in Philosophy, Dorothée is a keen proponent of both the sciences and arts as she tries to make it as a scientist and writer. At Guru she combines them both while spending the rest of her time obsessing about brains, challenging the norm at Sensa Nostra in Berlin, and figuring out the perfect, minimal polyphasic sleep schedule.

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