What's your favorite color?

If you responded blue to the above question you are not alone. A study conducted by a University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen asked this same question of nearly 2000 men and women. Over a third of those people said blue was their favorite color with green and purple being the second most popular choices. (Wolchover)


So, why do people most often prefer blue over any other color?


There have been many ideas on this subject. In 2007 an article was published suggesting

that perhaps color preferences were based on evolutionary traits in our DNA. It speculated that men and women developed color preferences based on past hunting and gathering tasks. Women supposedly preferred reds because they needed to look for the reds and purples of berries as gatherers. However a reason was never given as to why men, as hunters, would prefer blues and greens and why overwhelmingly both men and women preferred violets over yellow-greens. (Hurlbert and Yazhu)


A study published in 2010 offers another theory on human color preferences. This study theorizes that people prefer colors based on their reactions to objects of the same color. For example if you see a lot of orange traffic cones due to construction making your commute to work miserable you may be less likely to pick orange as your favorite color. Your emotional response to objects of a certain color can sway your color preference. (Palmer and Schloss)


Favorite colors may even change overtime. New emotions are connected to new objects and

thus your emotional connections to certain colors changes. In the fall as the leaves turn and favorites like pumpkin pie start to appear the colors orange, brown, and red become more popular. (Palmer and Schloss)


A 2013 study was performed to try and sway color preferences by creating new emotional responses to certain colors. Participants were shown several images of red or green objects. For one group the red objects were positive (i.e. roses and strawberries) and the green objects were negative (i.e. snot and vomit). For the other group the colors were reversed; the red objects were negative and the green objects were positive.


The results showed that participants picked the positive image color over the negative image color when presented with a color preference selection later on. The effect wore off by the next day but it supports the theory that emotional reaction has a lot of sway when picking a favorite color. (Palmer and Schloss)


When you think of blue what is the first blue object you think of? Is it the sky or the ocean? The majority of people have a positive emotion towards the sky or ocean and they come into contact with one of those things nearly every day. This seems like the best explanation as to why the color blue is so popular amongst people from all over the world. Who doesn’t love a beautiful clear blue sky? Take a moment to think about your favorite color today and see if it relates to some of your favorite foods, activities, or memories. You might notice a pattern!




Hurlbert, Anya C., and Yazhu Ling. “Biological Components of Sex Differences in Color Preference.” Current Biology, vol. 17, no. 16, 21 Aug. 2007, pp. R623–R625., doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.06.022.

Palmer, Stephen E, and Karen B Schloss. “An Ecological Valence Theory of Humancolor Preference.” PNAS, 11 May 2010, www.pnas.org/content/107/19/8877.

Wolchover, Natalie. “Pie Chart: Humanity's Favorite Colors.” LiveScience, Purch, 31 July 2012, www.livescience.com/34105-favorite-colors.html.

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