Age-dependence of colour preference in the U.K. population

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In our previous study of hue preference for young Chinese and British adults in Newcastle upon Tyne, we found that individual hue preference patterns may be described by the weighted sum of the two universal cone-contrast channels (S-(L+M) and L–M contrast) (Hurlbert & Ling 2007). Therefore, each individual’s hue preference may be reduced to two factors, representing preference along the ‘blue’-‘yellow’ and ‘red’-‘green’ dimensions correspondingly. We also found robust differences between sex and culture, represented by differential weighting on these components. Here we extend the study by investigating colour preference across ages in the U.K. population. A portable experimental box was developed to conduct the study outside the lab. Stimuli were displayed on a calibrated laptop screen fixed at the back of the box. A chin-rest fixed the distance from which observers viewed the stimuli, and their heads were covered by a black curtain to exclude external light from view. The observer had to select, as rapidly as possible, his or her preferred colour from each of a series of pairs of stimuli on a grey background, above and below the centre of the screen. We tested 4 age groups, children (8–9 years old and 11–12 years old), young adults (18–24 years), and elderly adults (61–88 years). The results reveal robust sex and age differences in colour preference for the U.K. population, which are described by our preference model. Implications of these differences are discussed.


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