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Affective Responses to Image Color Combinations

journal contribution
posted on 24.11.2021, 15:37 by Jan J. Koenderink, Doris I. Braun, Andrea J. van Doorn

Responses to colored patterns were collected for a group of 60 naive participants. We explicitly aimed at affective responses, rather than aesthetic judgments, so this is not ‘color harmony’ proper. Patterns were mainly spatially highly structured compositions, the color palettes reminiscent of what is found in generic ‘colorist’ art. Color combinations systematically cover mono-, di-, and trichromatic chromatic chords, whereas there was always an additional achromatic component. This sets the research apart from the bulk of the mainstream literature on ‘color harmony.’ Various ways of analysis are compared. Clustering methods reveal that the responses are highly structured through the teal–orange (cool–warm) dimension. Clustering reveals a large group of mutually concordant participants and various small, idiosyncratic groups. When the data is coarse-grained, retaining only a limited red–blue–yellow palette, the group as a whole appears quite concordant. It is evident that responses are systematic, thus the notion of a universal affective response to color combinations gains some credibility. The precise affective responses are specific because constrained by the seven categories used in the experiment. Thus, the systematic structure is perhaps to be understood as the generic result. We discuss tangencies with various traits found with ‘colorist’ art styles.

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