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13-06-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2018

Psychological Research 5/2018

Color and emotion: effects of hue, saturation, and brightness

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 5/2018
Auteurs:
Lisa Wilms, Daniel Oberfeld
Belangrijke opmerkingen
This experiment was conducted as a part of LW’s master’s thesis in Psychology (Institute of Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, 2013). Portions of this work were presented at the Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen 2014, Gießen, Germany, at the Conference of the International Society for Research on Emotion 2015, Geneva, Switzerland, and at the international symposium Seeing Colors 2016, Regensburg, Germany.

Abstract

Previous studies on emotional effects of color often failed to control all the three perceptual dimensions of color: hue, saturation, and brightness. Here, we presented a three-dimensional space of chromatic colors by independently varying hue (blue, green, red), saturation (low, medium, high), and brightness (dark, medium, bright) in a factorial design. The 27 chromatic colors, plus 3 brightness-matched achromatic colors, were presented via an LED display. Participants (N = 62) viewed each color for 30 s and then rated their current emotional state (valence and arousal). Skin conductance and heart rate were measured continuously. The emotion ratings showed that saturated and bright colors were associated with higher arousal. The hue also had a significant effect on arousal, which increased from blue and green to red. The ratings of valence were the highest for saturated and bright colors, and also depended on the hue. Several interaction effects of the three color dimensions were observed for both arousal and valence. For instance, the valence ratings were higher for blue than for the remaining hues, but only for highly saturated colors. Saturated and bright colors caused significantly stronger skin conductance responses. Achromatic colors resulted in a short-term deceleration in the heart rate, while chromatic colors caused an acceleration. The results confirm that color stimuli have effects on the emotional state of the observer. These effects are not only determined by the hue of a color, as is often assumed, but by all the three color dimensions as well as their interactions.

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