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Is the color yellow synonymous with happiness? It depends on where you were born

by Ace Damon
Is the color yellow synonymous with happiness? It depends on where you were born

A study by Swiss researchers showed that yellow is not considered as cheerful in sunny countries: it is more popular in cold and rainy.

By Ingrid Luisa

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Oct 4, 2019, 7:37 pm

(mrs / Getty Images)

We all associate emotions with colors: red to love, yellow to joy, blue to sadness, and so on. But these conceptions are not fixed: orange, for example, is very much associated with warmth and vitality in the West, but in the Middle East has an extremely sad meaning – associated with mourning and mourning.

To map these differences, Swiss researchers at the University of Lausanne asked individuals of different ethnicities and nationalities what meaning they attributed to yellow. Yellow was chosen because "it is reminiscent of sunlight, which sustains life and pleasant weather."

Published in the journal Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study used data from the first 6625 people who responded to an international survey on the relationship between color and emotion, accounting for volunteers from 55 countries. In this quiz, participants associate 12 colors with gradations of feelings such as joy, pride, fear and shame.

The researchers' conclusion was curious: yellow is not considered so cheerful in sunny countries. After analyzing several variables – such as average daily hours of open skies and the relative length of day and night, they realized that two factors were determinant: the annual amount of rainfall and the distance from Ecuador. In general, people who associated yellow with joy lived in rainier countries, located far from the imaginary line.

In Egypt, only 5.7% of people associate color with joy. In Finland, a cold country, with a high rainfall and far from the equator, 87.7% find yellow cheerful. In countries with milder climates and more defined seasons, such as the US, these levels of association were between 60% and 70%. Unfortunately, the study has no data on Brazil.

It is obvious that the study is limited and uses a small sample – future research conducted with a larger number of people may fail to replicate these results. Even so, it is valuable to kick-start this issue.

Check out all the associations on the map below, where the darker the tone, the more likely people are to associate yellow with happy emotions.

Is the color yellow synonymous with happiness? It depends on where you were born

– (A. Cuadra / Science / Reproduction Montage)

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