Cross-cultural color-odor associations

Levitan, Carmel A. and Ren, Jiana and Woods, Andy T. and Boesveldt, Sanne and Chan, Jason S. and McKenzie, Kirsten J. and Dodson, Michael and Levin, Jai A. and Leong, Christine X. R. and van den Bosch, Jasper J. F. (2014) Cross-cultural color-odor associations. PloS one, 9 (7). e101651. ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.137...

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Cross-cultural color-odor associations
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Abstract

Colors and odors are associated; for instance, people typically match the smell of strawberries to the color pink or red. These associations are forms of crossmodal correspondences. Recently, there has been discussion about the extent to which these correspondences arise for structural reasons (i.e., an inherent mapping between color and odor), statistical reasons (i.e., covariance in experience), and/or semantically-mediated reasons (i.e., stemming from language). The present study probed this question by testing color-odor correspondences in 6 different cultural groups (Dutch, Netherlands-residing-Chinese, German, Malay, Malaysian-Chinese, and US residents), using the same set of 14 odors and asking participants to make congruent and incongruent color choices for each odor. We found consistent patterns in color choices for each odor within each culture, showing that participants were making non-random color-odor matches. We used representational dissimilarity analysis to probe for variations in the patterns of color-odor associations across cultures; we found that US and German participants had the most similar patterns of associations, followed by German and Malay participants. The largest group differences were between Malay and Netherlands-resident Chinese participants and between Dutch and Malaysian-Chinese participants. We conclude that culture plays a role in color-odor crossmodal associations, which likely arise, at least in part, through experience.

Keywords:cross-cultural, odour, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:17315
Deposited On:01 May 2015 08:32

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