Favourite Colours

By: Anna Franklin

The analysis of the G . F Smith survey, which asked 26,596 people to choose their favourite colour, revealed several key findings. Those key findings are identified and interpreted here within the framework of colour psychology.

In addition, this report plots the favourite colours in a perceptual colour space, which enables further key findings to be identified and discussed.

People’s favourite colour is most commonly named green or blue.

The main interpretable finding from our analysis of favourite colours comes from analysis of how people name their chosen colour. Favourite colours were most commonly named green or blue (7,143 people chose a colour named green and 6,379 people chose a colour named blue). Colours named purple and red were next most popular (chosen by 2,967 and 3,417 people respectively), and colours named yellow, pink and orange were the next most popular after that (each named by around 1,800 people). Colours named white or black were least frequently chosen (by less than 700 people each).

The finding that favourite colours are most commonly named green or blue is predicted by prior scientific studies of colour preference. Previous studies commonly identify that blue is the most preferred colour, although blue-greens are usually a close second. Our analysis of colour terms does not reveal which shades of green or blue are most preferred. It is not the case that all greens or all blues will be liked.

It has been accounted for previously that human beings commonly prefer blue-green colours has previously been accounted for in terms of the objects or surfaces that are associated with these colours. It has been proposed that people associate liked objects and surfaces such as the sea, sky, nature with blue and green colours and as these are liked then the colour is liked as a result.

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Professor Anna Franklin is a leading expert in colour psychology. She is a Director of the Sussex Colour Group in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex in England.