Literature Review

Can someone complete a literature review on the topic The Effects Colors Have on Mood Change? The body of the paper must consist of 10 pages and can consist of multiple articles.









Literature review

Brandi Ingram

Grambling State University


Brandi Ingram

April 17th, 2020

Dr. S. Duhon

PSY 401

Literature Review: Do Colors Cause Physiological Reactions

Colors consist of a very significant element of the senses and elements of human beings and other living organisms. The color vision and our emotions tend to be interconnected since both processes of color preference and the right hemisphere are connected to our brain selection. Colors have different meanings to different people. Colors that signal danger could increase people’s heart rate or affect other brain activities. Other natural colors tend to reduce renal fours, brain activity, and heart rate. In the modern world, many areas such as design have evolved from traditional non-sensory activities to modern sensory oriented activity. This phenomenon has resulted in the rise in the significance of sensory stimulations. Various aspects can stimulate the human being’s senses and satisfy the sensibility. The effect of color on human senses has a direct impact. Various objects tend to stimulate various human beings’ sensors. Among the many elements that stimulate the human minds and satisfy feasibility, color has a direct impact on human awareness. It comprises of the main visual simulation that emanates from the several objects.


Keywords: sensory stimulation, psycho physiotherapy

Colors are an important part of the human intelligences. Different people associate different colors with different feelings. It is evident that we tend to associate various colors with our emotions. This happens since the processes of the right hemisphere comprise of emotions and color vision. However, another hypothesis generates suggestions that the preference of various colors is connected to the brain system from various selections. (Palmer & Schloss, 2010). Different colors send different signals, while some colors may generate a signal to approach others may send signals to avoid. The signals are deeply ingrained natural color signals. These signals have significantly improved the survival of the early human beings; for instance, women tend to locate the fruits with bright colors or contrally the realization that while blueberries are edible, the red berries are poisonous. Studies aim to determine why people have certain preferences for certain colors.

A study that comprised of people from different ages groups found out that adults and children have different preferences and attitudes on various colors and their emotions vary (Aiken & Pascal, 2012). While seven-year-old found yellow to generate appealing emotions while green ignited feelings of unappealing, adults found the reverse of this observation (Terwogt & Hoeksma, 2001). While seven-year-old tends to value fear more compared to adults, adults have more value for anger (Taylor et al., 2013). A different study evaluated the effect of colors on emotions of different college students in German and American college students. The study evaluates d the feelings of the students based on various colors. The participants were requested to rate various emotions in various colors. The study revealed that there is a huge intercultural agreement with various tones associated with anger and fear than the colors which are associated with envy and jealousy. The researcher made a claim that the associations were based on cultural diversity and other experiences in life alongside the participant’s genetics. In a different study, Codispoti et al. aimed to determine how various colors are associated with arousal and pleasure through a study of the human brain of the study participants. The study comprised of presenting to the participants two different pictures from various categories. The study found out that unpleasant pictures also tend to be unpleasant in color than in black and white, on the other hand, unpleasant pictures were increasingly unpleasant in color in white and black, unpleasant colors were more arousing when in other colors besides black and white.

A study was conducted with 20 college students who were in the early late 20s; the study comprised of fourteen male and six female participants. The statistical method that was used in this study was the standard deviation for a range of data 0.1 to 5.5. There was a percentage change in the slide range from 0% to 15.5%. The EEG data in the T-tests and the heart rate indicate that the p- values are larger than 0.05. This figure does not support the study hypothesis. The students were free from color blindness. The color test involved the use of green and red circles with numbers inside the circles. Both tests were evaluated on the basis of the pass and fail. Colors are closely linked to human sensitivity and other sense designs. This observation is evident from product manifestations in various designs. Color is critical in marketing processes. Colors used in marketing products determined the feelings and emotions the color of the products generate to the viewers. Besides marketing, color sensitivity and impact on emotions are evident in color therapy. Colors are not restricted to the psychological attractiveness of design; it also stimulates emotions physically through the unique wavelengths of the various individual colors (Werner & Chalupa, 2014). The emotions of human beings are very sensitive and react to changes to the various color changes.

Other research on the relationship between human emotions and color and other factors has been carried out. The results showed that human emotions are more subjective, and Cacioppo and Gardner suggest that the “…measurement of emotions is a very bustling research field.” According to the analysis of the above research and professional papers, the most common method used for the measurement of emotions is that of the psychological measurement method based on the subject’s subjective evaluation. Therefore, by understanding the inadequacy of the emotion evaluation method used in design research, this study will try to carry out quantitative and qualitative research by evaluating subjective emotional adjective tests and objective physical signal measurements. This emphasizes systematic and scientific emotion evaluation process research, and by objectively researching the difficulties associated with the emotion evaluation method, this study will attempt to determine a color design that focuses on usability. Also, an attempt will be made to commercialize a user-centered color design and a foundation of a systematic color design guideline through this research result (Aiken & Pascal, 2013).

In the research, subjective emotion tests and objective physical signal measurements were executed and analyzed for a quantitative and qualitative emotional mechanical design research of color design. Test subjects’ color preferences were checked prior to the test in order for the design to be user-centered, and a color lighting control system was used to appropriately adjust characteristics of individual colors to fit unique illumination receptive individual test subjects. The subjective emotion evaluation method collected an adjective through the emotional adjective evaluation method, and the SD dichotomy was applied to the 20 emotional adjectives extracted from the KJ method. This was divided into pre-color stimulation (if the color was associated) and post-stimulation (if color stimulation was directly felt) and analyzed.

The objective physical signal measurement evaluation measured the heart rate variability (HRV), which is used to analyze the effects on a sympathetic nerve and a parasympathetic nerve, which is closely related to emotions, and was carried out in 6 different color rooms of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Physical signals before the stimulation and during 10 minutes of color stimulation were recorded and compared. Also, to eliminate the afterimage from color stimulation, test subjects were ordered to rest in a comfortable position, and watch (IAPS) pictures through a VTR for 30 minutes. The color wavelengths have a significant impact on human emotions and senses. The color light wavelengths are transmitted through the human eyes, which trigger hormones secretions and stress reactions. Color is distinguished by the characteristic of the wavelength distribution of the light which enters the eye, and this is an optical phenomenon. Also, since the wavelength distribution characteristic of the light follows the chemical conversion of the luminous body or the characteristics of the elemental structure of the object, it is a chemical phenomenon as well. Once it stimulates the cerebral cortex, color activates a unique recognition method of thoughts and memories. This expands the receiver’s information processing ability.

Sensual experiences are results of activities of our sensual nerve system; color can be a physiological phenomenon as it is determined by active characteristics of the optic nerve system. This shows that four areas of psychological, physiological, physical, and sociological reactions are mutually related, and that color effect recognitions in a variety of fields in human life and has a broad range of influence (Akers et al., 2012). Also, the recognition step of a brain from color recognition is emotionally analyzed based on an objective decision, and it can be said that the idea of a color image is contained within colors. Consequently, color has an important role related to survival by enabling us to perceive forms of objects accurately, recognize objects, and accept them.

User-centered design and color design UCD is a design ideology and a psychological approach method for product design, interface, and service that will be centered on the user. It is also a process of designing objects to meet the user’s ability and situation, as well as the needs and wants of the user. For this, the core of color design, the human emotional reaction evaluation, must be developed for an individual design process to directly affect it. Since humans not only perceive color through their eyes but through the skin as well, it is appropriate to design color according to the user’s emotional reaction evaluation. The following is an outline of the results from analyzing the effects and influences of color on humans.

Color is made up of light, and each color has unique wavelengths; thus, color influences psychologically and physiologically. Sight is information perceived through, a color which makes up a significant part of the information received by the five senses and transmitted to the brain. Also, skin sensation is said to receive color waves and possibly can distinguish between colors. Therefore, a person with a visual impairment, a cataract, or color blindness, can also receive energy from color in the same way that a non-impaired person does (Brainard & Hurlbert, 2015). The effect of colors on physiological functions has been effectively used as a color therapy for some time in various medical fields. By stimulating psychological emotion with color, medical circles are using color as an effective method of treatment. Color effects are produced through physiological and acculturation factors.

Various colors have differing wavelengths, red, for instance, has the longest wavelength, and it is a stimulating color that captures the eye faster than other colors with weaker wavelengths. Colors with a relatively short wavelength tend to generate a calm mind (Bruno et al., 2013). Blue color, for instance, is believed to reduce blood pressure and the respiratory rate. The various physiological features of various colors develop additional culture association that strengthens them further. Consequently, because humans react to colors psychologically, physiologically, physically, and sociologically, consumers’ emotions and needs in terms of products and living environments must be scientifically and objectively analyzed when designing with color; and not only the appearance but a complex commercialization is required to increase the satisfaction of users. This can be called an emotionally ergonomic approach to design and is an important part of objective quantitative index research of design.

IAPS represent International Affective Picture System established by Professor Lang of the University of Florida, Center for Research in Psychophysiology. IAPS demonstrates 3 dimensional ratings for the emotion in terms of excitement and joy, about each photograph. Subjective emotion evaluation method and analysis Subjective color preferences of test subjects were surveyed before proceeding to the emotional adjective evaluation method. The result showed red as the highest preference with 46%, followed by yellow, blue, green, purple, and orange. The emotional adjective evaluation method was used in the subjective emotional evaluation method. The color red seemed to have the highest effect on various changes in emotions. Images associated with red before the stimulations were negative, murky, dark, dizzy, old, unpleasant, tough, and active. But the changed images of the color after the stimulation were positive (clear, stable, bright, fresh, refreshing), and the curve of the adjective change shows the change from the unstable pre-stimulation curve to the stable post-stimulation curve.

This resulted in the contradicting image change from direct stimulation rather than from an association with the color red. Other colors apart from the red color do not exhibit significant changes. This indicates that the red color stimulates the highest human emotions. This result also agrees with the pretest survey result of the preference in red for the test subjects. The aim of measuring the physiological signals and evaluation was carried out in an experimental environment of the color organism’s physiological signal measurement system. It measured the changes in post-stimulation and pre-stimulation variability in heart rate, which shows the effect of the autonomic nervous system that is most closely related to emotion. For the experimental environment, six colored rooms with dimensions of 400 x 300 x 250cm were created inside a sound, and lightproof room and luminance controllers were equipped to adjust the luminosity of colors. Six colors of red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple were installed in the room. For the user-centric analysis, the color luminosity of each color room was adjusted to the preferred level of the individual test subject, and the average luminosity is presented. The average luminosity of yellow color was the highest, while the blue had the lowest average. The use of the electrocardiograph signal extracted the variability of the heart rate, and the ECG was measured using MP100WS (Biopac System Inc., USA) and ECG100A module. Also, lead I was chosen with 500Hz as the sample rate for the measurement method.

The heartbeat rate that represents beats per minute when the R-R interval of ECG was kept at the equal intervals was obtained from the signals, and heart rate variability was calculated by taking the FFT of the sampling of the waveform with the equal interval of the time-axis. The domination degree of the sympathetic nerve over the parasympathetic nerve, the variables that show the ratio of the low frequency and high frequency, was calculated to analyze the pre- and post-stimulation effect on the autonomic nervous system. The HF region that represents the parasympathetic nerve system was determined as 0.15 to 0.5Hz, and the LF region that represents the sympathetic nervous system was fixed between 0.04 to 0.15Hz areas.

This implies that the red color stimulated the parasympathetic system of the nerve, while color simulation results in significant physiological changes affecting the autonomic change in the nerve system. The objective result, like the subjective result, can be seen to be related to the preferred color. To quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the effect of color stimulation on user-centric emotions, the test subjects’ preferred color was examined, and the result of the emotional adjective evaluation and physiological signal measurement evaluation, with appropriate color luminosities for test subjects, was analyzed. The analysis of the experiment shows that the subjective emotional adjective evaluation resulted in a contracting image change for the color red after the stimulation; and from the increases in the parasympathetic nervous system from the color red, the objective physiological signal measurement evaluation result showed a 1978 relation of the evaluations with the preferred color of the test subject. The parasympathetic nerve is active in a stress-free environment. This nerve system adjusts the blood pressure, the heart rate, and the respiratory rates below the normal level vitalize the digestive system and keep the temperature of the skin warm. It can be seen that such an increase in the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system is in unity with the positive adjective change from the emotional adjective evaluation.

Various researches indicate that warm color play critical role in stimulating the sympathetic nervous system (Palmer & Schloss, 2010). However, cold colors, on the other hand, tend to have an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that the physiological and psychological reactions from colors can be separately assessed by the use of preferred colors or the user’s luminosity. This means that a synergy effect can be anticipated when using color with the psychologically and physiologically appropriate saturation of colors preferred by the user, rather than using the typical saturation in color design. This research can be understood as an objective index of quantitative and qualitative emotions, showing the effects of color stimulation on a person’s emotional adjective evaluation reaction changes and physiological signal. It would be important to continue the control group experiments of color stimulations based on this result.

Colours are among the critical part of the human’s daily life. Apart from making the world around human beings lively, colours have a lot of impact on the thinking and behaviour of human beings (Meier, 2012). It is always believed that each colour has a significant influence on an individual and stimulates different responses from them. From this perception, therefore most of the restaurants are painted in some screaming colours, such as yellow and orange colour. They are believed that these colours stimulate the individual’s appetite when he or she enters the room. This paper speculates the contrary to many notions on the effects of different colours on the moods of an individual. This is because a different individual may perceive the colours from different perceptions. For example, when a person is in love with someone, or they are in a romantic relationship, they use the red colour to express their appreciation to the other person while another person may use a different colour to show the same feelings.

The research shows that colours may bring about categorically different moods, emotions, and changes in the behaviour of an individual. For example, there are common colours in our daily life that has some different effects on the individual.


The red colour is defined as a warm and vibrant colour that arouses deep emotions and always associated with increased appetite. The research indicates that this colour stimulates an individual attitude, depending on the psychological context in which the colour is perceived by the person (Meier, 2012). For instance, the study held in 2012 by Meier reveals that this colour red has various effects on the speed at which the participants walked, but it depends on the settings at which they perceive the colour. For example, in a romantic context where the participants were interviewed on dating, it shows that the colour increases the speed of walking. While in the context of achievement, it shows that the colour reduces the speed at which the participants are walking. Another survey made, it reveals that the colour red is the most passionate and boldest colour that makes an individual feel more powerful.


The blue colour is mostly considered as a colour of creativity which is described to be orderly, soothing and serene colour to human beings (Labrecque & Milne, 2011). The colour is believed to be soothing to human beings’ minds, and thus, it enhances the capabilities of creativity in human beings. Many believe that the colour boost productivity, and many considered it as a colour of loyalty. The colour also stands for security and thus, many organizations use the colour for projecting the security and others packaging their products using this colour for advertisement and marketing their products.

From the study done by George Milne and Lauren to investigate the importance of the blue colour in marketing (Labrecque & Milne, 2011). they note that most of the companies use this colour for advertisement because it enhances the visibility and loyalty of their products. They also note that the colour when in use by the companies to package their brands strengthen the personality of their brand.


This colour is a cheerful and warm colour that is certain to lift the individual spirits and boosts personal self-esteem. For instance, in the experiment done that involves 20 children who were diagnosed with a similar disease and they require hospitalization, 10 of them were taken into a ward painted yellow (Seddigh & Pazira, 2014) while the others were hospitalized in the ward which was painted grey. All the children were subjected to the same conditions and care. Eight of the children who had been taken to a ward painted yellow were discharged after two weeks, while only three of those admitted on the ward that contains the grey colour were released after the same period.

This explains the reason why many of the hospitals’ walls are painted with warm colours such as yellow. The yellow colour being warm is believed to accelerate the process of recovery among the patients.


The black colour is believed to be a good absorber of the light as no light is reflected. This colour may appear menacing to some individuals, and thus, many people are afraid of the dark. This colour is mainly associated with evils deeds and mourning of deaths. This colour is also believed to be creating seriousness insight on an individual. Most people believe that this colour brings glamour mood to an individual.

Despite the indisputable effect of colours on the way an individual thinks and acts and the effects of the colour on their moods, this field of colours receives less attention from the psychologists (Meier, 2012). Most psychologists dismiss the study of colours, as most of them claim that it is a matter of aesthetics. From the growing evidence that links the way an individual think and the colours, most of them have developed an interest in the field of the colours. Even when they are interested in colours, an individual need to understand how various colours affects every individual in different situations. Therefore, it is not enough for psychologists to say that the colour of yellow stimulates an individual’s appetite. They need to do more research and study and discover under what circumstances and conditions does this happens. Different colors have different moods and feelings attached to them. Some bring out a cheerful feeling, while others bring out a dull mood. Some people use colors to express themselves, and how they are feeling on that particular day, from the way they are dressed. This shows that colors have a psychological impact and they can be used to convey messages about moods and feelings. Besides moods and feelings, colors affect the behaviors and choices of individuals; for instance, a brightly- colored dress might attract an individual and make them purchase the dress. This is one factor that people use while selecting products for purchase. It is therefore important for organizations and companies to be careful when branding their products using different colors because it might attract or put off customers. Thus, colors have a huge impact on marketing, as will be discussed in the following paper.

Gambling joints like casinos use the red light as a strategy to keep customers in the premises, without panicking over wasted time. The principle behind this is the fact that under red light, time seems to pass slowly, and the objects seem heavier and larger (Singh, 2006). The more time the spent in the casino, the more the money they make. If the light in the casino was, for instance, yellow, the gamblers would be more conscious over time and they would probably spend little time gambling. This is, therefore, an important marketing strategy, where the colors are used to influence the perception of the passage of time.


Secondly, colors are used to attract customers in food joints and restaurants. When you walk into a restaurant, the color that will meet the customer will determine your appetite and the mood for eating (Kaushik, 2011). Plain colors like white, for instance, will not attract one by enticing their appetite. This is the reason why most restaurants use red colors, or yellow colors because they encourage the mood for eating and increase appetite. On the other hand, other restaurants may use the blue color to help their customers be calm and relaxed. After long days of work and unrest, or during the weekends, customers will need to relax and keep calm while enjoying meals and drinks. This is an important strategy because; it will lead to prolonged stay which might result in more sales. This is particularly important for dinners, where a relaxed mood might make customers spend more on drinks as they flow with the mood in the restaurant. In effect, customers will be loyal to this restaurant and will be frequently visiting to gain such experiences. It is therefore important for restaurants to choose colors that will attract and retain their customers, which is a good marketing strategy.

Similarly, colors have been used in branding products, and different products have different colors that identify them; for example, when you mention the color purple, Cadbury comes into mind. On the other hand, the color green is popular in the Heineken brand. Colors give a clear distinction of a particular product from other products. Companies have realized the importance of colors in marketing their brand because customers are more attracted o color. A product with only a name and images, without a brand color, will not be attractive to customers. It is therefore important for companies to adopt brand colors for their products, which customers can easily identify (Labrecque & Milne, 2011).


Just like fashion, colors move with trends and seasons. This is an important element for companies because they can brand their products based on the trending color. These trends are mostly affected by trending seasons; for example, February is a valentine month and red is used as a symbol for love. In this season, people are most likely going to be attracted by the products with red colors. Therefore, branding products with the red color will attract more customers to purchase the products. This is also true during the Christmas seasons. The theme color is red, and people purchase gifts and clothes, with red colors. Similarly, October is the season for breast cancer awareness, and the color pink symbolizes this activity. Therefore, products branded with this color will move faster because they are trending with the season of breast cancer awareness. Therefore, understanding the seasons will help companies and organizations brand their products with the theme color of the specific season (Singh, 2006).

In conclusion, the significance of colors in marketing cannot be overlooked. Besides quality and price, customers are attracted to the branding of the products. This is an indication of how color affects behaviors, in this case purchasing behaviors. When customers want to try out a new product, the packaging and branding of the product will be the first element to attract them to the product. Therefore, these choices by customers affect how companies market their products, and by using colors wisely, they capture the attention of customers. It is clear that colors affect behaviors and consequently affect marketing strategies.

Gender-typed color is a case that has received a lot of attention from different scholars and researchers. This is a condition that is majorly associated with the children. This study is done on Chinese children and to determine whether they would show the gender typed colors and also if a gender type preference color could be created and finally if the colors would become gender type would affect the performance of the students during play.


As children grow up, they tend to look for things are gender related. The girls will look for toys that are to the female gender and the boys also will do the same. In the recent past, the children products have been marketed in terms of gender sensitivity. In the same context, the color preference of boys and girls is quite different as girls prefer different colors as compared to boys. In relation to the topic under study, the blue and pink color preference among the boys and girls study was conducted using pure color stimuli. Children who are 3-6 years age bracket when presented with objects of different colors, the boys tend to choose the dark colors while the girls choose the bright colors especially the pink color. Also, when children of the age between 2-4 years were presented with similar objects with different colors, the girls choose the pink color while the boys choose the blue color. However, the origin of the color preference is not yet clear with different researchers stating that it is inborn while another group stating that it arises due to sensitivity.


In the gender-typed color preference study in relation to children, two hypotheses were formulated: it was expected that from the study of the Chinese children, the girls would show preference to the pink color and the boys will also show preference to the blue color. The second hypothesis is rooted on the impact of color preferences. When children are given toys to play with toys of different colors, they will tend to perform better with toys related to their gender than those related to another gender. The children were presented with cards in the first place from which they had to choose between the pink and blue color from where the results would be recorded. The same was also to be applied in the pictures part whereby the children had to choose the color that they most preferred.


Out of the 87 children who participated in the study, 33 of the girls had preference for the pink color, 2 chose the blue color while 10 were not sure which color to choose from. Among the boys, it was so much noticeable that 41 choose the blue color while 2 choose the pink color. 40 girls chose pictures with pink color and 39 boys chose pictures with blue color respectively. From the study, it is so much cognitive that gender-typed color is much inclined to gender. With 33 girls choosing pink color over blue can lead to a generalization that girls like the pink color. On the other hand, blue color is mostly associated to boys as it was depicted by the number of boys who choose the cards and pictures with the blue color.











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