What your car colour reveals about you
Automakers conduct all sorts of studies to determine which colours consumers will pick when buying a new car, but, sometimes, according to DuPont, psychology, cultural influences and science also play roles in colour preference.
DuPont contacted Dr. Peter Weil, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Delaware, for insights into cultural and societal influences on colour preference. “We have only known for the last 35 years that all humans biologically process colour the same way,” Weil says. “In many traditional, non-industrial societies, people have a culturally learned awareness of only four basic colour ranges: red, blue, black and white. But, in industrial societies, we are conditioned to perceive a wide range of colours because of globalization, marketing and other factors.”
The range of colours of which people are aware is important, according to Weil, because all societies assign certain values to colours.
Some colours are indicators that a person is doing well,” says Weil. “Silver, for example, has been associated with high status, especially during the post-Sept. 11 economic boom. The popularity of silver began to wane, though, about two years ago.”
Silver ranked as the top colour in the DuPont Global Automotive Color Popularity Reports from 2000 to 2006 – a seven-year reign. The switch to white as the top colour coincides with Weil’s – and many economists’ – estimates of the beginning of the current economic recession.
“White is associated with transition,” Weil says. “But it’s interesting that much of the switch was to whites with special effects, such as pearl.” So, even though people shifted to white, he says, it was to a more luxurious and durable-looking white rather than the plain white they remembered as appearing bland and institutional.
For insights into the psychology behind colour, DuPont consulted Dr. Kayta Gajdos, a Pennsylvania psychologist in private practice who uses colour as a tool in psychotherapy.
“While colour choice can indicate mood, specific colours can also evoke certain feelings,” Gajdos says. “Colours can be exciting and they can be calming.”
An individual’s car colour preference may also be associated with left-brain or right-brain dominance, she says. People with a left-brain orientation tend to be logical, analytical and objective in their decision making, says the psychologist. A person with left-brain tendencies might be more influenced by practical considerations than esthetics. For example, a left-brain dominant person might lean toward colours that will not show dirt and would be more visible in the dark.
Right-brain thinkers, however, are more intuitive and random in their deliberations. They are apt to view “wholes” rather than “parts” and are more influenced by subjective factors than logic. People with right-brain dominance might be more spontaneous in their colour choices.
Here’s a list of colour associations prepared by psychologists:
• Red or light violet – passion
• Deep red – security
• Blue – communication
• Blue-green – wholeness
• Indigo – understanding
• Yellow-green – empowered/assertive
• Orange – self-esteem/confidence
• Black – confident, strength (likes to wash car)
• White – purity
List of most popular colours
Psychedelic azure 0.007%
Carbon quartz 0.003%
National Post with files from DuPont
Photograph by: Feng Li / Getty Images