Color as emotion elicitor by Prof.Suk

Professor Suk published an article entitled as “Emotional Response to Color Across Media” in Color Research and Application. The co-author, Professor Dr. Hans Irtel was her supervisor for her doctoral study at the University of Mannheim in Germany. This study comes from her doctoral dissertation and investigated the emotional responses of people to simple color stimuli that were presented in paper as well as on a CRT display. Mainly there is a strong consistency of emotional reaction across different media types. For the assessment of emotion, the Self-Assessment-Manikins(SAMs) were facilitated.


In this study, the characteristics of emotional responses to color are explored in two empirical studies. In particular, the relationship between color attributes and emotional dimensions—valence, arousal, and dominance—is analyzed. In order to account for the cognitive quantity of color, 36 color stimuli were selected following hue and tone categorizations and based on the CIELab LCh system. In one experiment, the colors were presented on A5-size glossy paper while the identical colors were displayed on CRT monitors in the other experiment. In both experiments, the subjects assessed the emotional responses to each color stimulus using a Self-Assessment-Manikin (SAM), which consists of three rows of five pictograms illustrating the three dimensions of emotion, respectively. The empirical results provide evidence that the patterns of affective judgment of colors can be profiled in terms of the three dimensions of emotion (Reliability coefficient, Cronbach’s alpha>.7). All three attributes of colors, i.e., hue, Chroma, and Lightness, influenced the emotional responses (repeated measurement One-way ANOVA, p<.05), and especially, Chroma was always positively correlated with each of the three emotional dimensions (r>.60 p<.01). Moreover, the results indicate that emotional responses to color vary more strongly with regard to tone than to hue categories. Comparing the SAM ratings between the two experiments, a systemic explanation has yet to be found to conclude that there is a media effect on the emotional responses to colors. Furthermore, the process of affective judgment of colors and the limit of color as an emotion elicitor are discussed.

Full text in Color Research and Application