What does your colour choice say about you?

3Bootlids
A selection of SnapDragon and Dragon mudwings

For many of us, trying to choose a colour for a product can be a rather agonising process. This is especially true for a Dragon, as we offer a practically unlimited colour choice. Then again, for some people it’s exceptionally straightforward. We all know that one person who refuses to buy anything that’s not the same garish colour as their favorite croquet team or some sort. “Too clashy?” “Too chintzy?” “Too monochrome?” are all insignificant trivialities for these colour monogamists. Even if you’re not one of these chroma loyalists, most likely you do have a favorite colour. The Dragonmobility office is no exception: we range from Dan’s rather somber maroon to Gerry’s ‘brightest’ orange. But do these choices reveal anything about us, and if so, what?

FavCols
The Dragonmobility Team’s Favourite Colours. Can you guess who’s who?

As with most things, we can turn to our favourite online deity. ‘Psychology Today’, proclaims (seemingly with zero external sources) that; “People who choose black as their favourite colour are often artistic and sensitive” and “those who love red live life to the fullest and are tenacious.” Let’s just say I’m unconvinced.

However, colour undoubtedly plays a huge part in our everyday lives. It impacts us all, at a subconscious level. Studies have proven that, for instance, we discern the flavour of food and drink based on their colour. In one such study, even when participants were explicitly informed that the colour of the solutions provided had no useful information regarding the flavour of the drink, they were unable to ignore the colour and accurately identify the taste (Zampini et al, 2007). It’s certain that we associate colours with flavours, but is it possible that we associate colours with thoughts and feelings as well?

colorful foods
We closely associate colour with food. Via foodinsight.org

Well the short answer is yes, we do. Colours have been shown to evoke clear emotional responses (Boyatzis and Varghese, 1994). For example, children, in particular have been shown to respond with positive emotions to bright colours. In the same study boys were shown to be far more likely to respond positively to dark colours than girls.

When adult colour preference is modeled through the application of a ‘mean hue preference curve’ (just roll with it), we can begin to interpret common colour inclinations. The model shows that average female preferences raises steeply to a sustained peak in a ‘reddish-purple region, while the male preference is shifted towards blue-green (Hurlbert et al, 2007). No doubt our culture construct of gender specific colours plays its part in this.

However, these studies, interesting as they are, are limited in their usefulness. This data is used extensively in many design fields. The aim being to use colour in order get consumers to relate to a product in a certain way. For example, companies will use silver/grey colour schemes to identify with balance and calmness. What the results don’t do is provide any link between individual personalities and colour preference. In fact, no academic source seems to be able to do so.

Colour preference has been shown to be independent of age, demographic and education (Sliburyte and Skeryte, 2014). At the end of the day, the only thing we can say with any certainty is that people like colours strongly associated with things they like (Palmer and Schloss, 2010). In this sense our uber croquet fan’s colour virtue should be applauded: they follow what makes them happy. I’m not going to lie: there would have been a time, as a product designer, where I would have been mortified by the suggestion that I change a carefully chosen colour scheme. Since joining Dragon though, I’ve found it hard not to celebrate each and every dragon that leaves our shop floor. Colour preferences make us who we are. At the end of the day our favourite colour is just that, it’s something that brings us joy. That’s why we should cherish them and that’s why we let you pick them.

Angus

Zampini M, Sanabria D, Phillips N, Spence C. (2007) The multisensory perception of flavor: assessing the influence of color cues on flavor discrimination responses. Food Qual Prefer;18:975–84

Boyatzis, C. J., & Varghese, R. (1994). Children’s emotional associations with colors. The Journal of genetic psychology, 155(1), 77-85.

Hurlbert, A. C., & Ling, Y. (2007). Biological components of sex differences in color preference. Current Biology, 17(16), R623-R625.

Sliburyte, L., & Skeryte, I. (2014). What we know about consumers’ color perception. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 156, 468-472.

Palmer, S. E., & Schloss, K. B. (2010). An ecological valence theory of human color preference. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(19), 8877-8882.

Premature thoughts on Fatherhood…

happy family father and child on meadow with a kite

A few weeks ago me and a few friends (all of us 24 year old men without kids) were talking about children. Specifically about whether and when we might want them. This was all going pretty much as expected: the broad points of view, from the broody to the depressingly distant, were all represented. That is until I surprised the floor by announcing that my attitude on the subject was softening.

To those who know me, the fact that this elicited a raised eyebrow will come as no great shock. While I’ve never been as fervently anti-child-rearing as some others my age, it’s fair to say that it’s never been a high priority of mine. So, their surprise was something I was expecting. What did catch me off-guard was their shock at my reasoning.

“Well, at my work you kind of end up meeting a lot of cute kids” I said, trying to de-raise some of those eyebrows.

“At work?” one of them asked with a hint of puzzlement.

“Aren’t most of the kids at your work ….” the other ventured, trailing off finding himself unable to use the word ‘disabled’.

Is disability in children really so unthinkable that the idea of being around disabled kids making someone slightly broody enough to stop a conversation in it’s tracks?

I should say in defense of my friends that they’re both lovely, caring and compassionate people. Just people who’ve been so flooded with stories of ‘inspirational’ families heartbroken at their stricken child that they can’t see what I see.

I’m lucky that in my work once in a while I get to see a child take their first steps (on wheels), I’ve seen the very communicative bond that develops when a parent has to arrange a kid’s legs in order to sit on the sofa, I’ve seen kids so comfortable in themselves that not being able to control their own limbs is a hilarious game, I’ve seen just how bright having to contend with the laws of physics can make someone.

To me then, it seems completely natural that being around these kids would, at the very least, make me reconsider my position on having children.

The conversation continued.

Having seen all these things, there are moments when I find myself thinking that (if I do want kids), not only has knowing these disabled children made me a little broodier, I don’t actually mind the idea of having a disabled kid myself.

“You can’t say that!” a friend exclaimed, seeming to think I’d wished some curse on the as yet unborn.

Now, I appreciate the naivety of my position and I don’t mean for a second to talk down the challenges that I know families with disabled children face, but I couldn’t help being a little annoyed at just how negatively they view it.

They didn’t understand.

What frustrated me was they only seemed to take the negatives: initially they didn’t believe me that in many ways it’s just like raising any child. I conceded that there are differences, but they would only believe that these were harrowing burdens. In trying to convince them that there were pros as well as cons I may as well have been trying to convince them that up was down.

Am I really so bizarre in thinking that it really wouldn’t be the end of the world to watch my child take their first steps in a wheelchair? Have I massively missed the point of all I’ve seen over my two years doing what I do?

In any case, for now this is all academic and, I’m aware, horribly self-indulgent. For now I’ll stay quiet in the knowledge that if/when the time does come, for all the things I’ll be woefully unprepared for, there’s at least one thing I’ll go into parenthood on the lookout for. And, If you’ll forgive the daydream, I’ll muse on shocking a doctor by responding to a child of mine “needing wheels” with a calm “cool”.

Seth