Color Aesthetics and Color-Based Judgments

Autumn Leaves

COLOR PREFERENCES. How are color preferences formed, and how do they change over time? According to the ecological valence theory (EVT), preference for a given color is influenced by preferences for all objects and entities associated with the color (Palmer & Schloss, 2010). Recent evidence suggests that color preferences vary depending on which associations are activated at the moment the preference judgment is made (Strauss, Schloss, & Palmer, 2013; Schloss & Palmer, 2014). We are further investigating the dynamics of color preferences by tracking how color preferences change with the environment (e.g., changing leaves in autumn).

Colorgorical 2AESTHETICS OF COLOR COMBINATIONS. Our lab also investigates the aesthetics of color combinations. We are currently developing a color palette generator, with the goal of creating combinations of colors that are sufficiently discriminable for use in data visualization, but are also aesthetically preferable. Our palette generator has adjustable parameters for pair preferences (Schloss & Palmer, 2011) and three different kinds of color distances. We are especially interested in how preference models of lower-order color combinations (e.g., pairs) scale to combinations of several colors. We are also developing previous work on how preferences for color combinations varies with semantic context and perceptual organization (e.g, figure-ground organization and grouping), with the goal of understanding aesthetic response to complex compositions.

COLOR IN JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING. When an observer perceives a color it activates a rich network of associates. Do affective responses toward color-associated entities (e.g., how much someone likes a sports team or political party) generalize to judgments and decisions about other entities associated with the same colors? Thus far we have found that team preference during the Super Bowl predicted rooting preference for lesser-known college football teams and donation preference for college scholarship funds, even though color is presumably an irrelevant cue (Schloss & Sobel, Psychonomics 2014). We call this phenomenon color-valence generalization. Current studies are underway to further understand the nature and pervasiveness of color-valence generalization for decisions of consequence.