3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite Color

What’s your favorite color? It’s such a simple question, but we still aren’t sure why people answer the way they do.

That said, psychologists have made some interesting discoveries while researching what drives people’s color preferences. Here are 3 things you might not know about why people like some colors more than others.

  •  Color preferences are seasonal: Have you been inexplicably feeling really good about the color orange lately? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! It turns out people’s color preferences change with the seasons. The effect is especially pronounced for colors like dark red, dark orange and dark yellow, which people like best during the fall.
  • Your gender influences your color preferences, and so do the genders of your kids: In the United States, men like blue more than women do on average while women feel better about pink, purple and red. The gender difference in color preferences becomes more extreme when people have only sons: men with all sons like blue even more, and women with all sons are especially partial to pink.
  • The school you go to and the websites you visit can change what your favorite colors are: After a few years at Big Red University, you might find that you start to feel more fond of the color red than you used to – that’s according to a study that showed college students end up liking the colors of their own schools more than those of their rivals. A similar effect may exist for problematic internet users, who tend to pick the color most common in the websites they browse when asked to choose a color after having their internet access taken away. More generally, what we associate colors with changes how much we like those colors, as evidenced by the fact that people update their color preferences after they encounter an object they like or dislike of a certain color.

None of these studies straight-up answers the question “why do people like some colors more than others?” But all of them suggest that our color preferences are influenced by our experiences and that our preferences change as our associations with different colors do. In other words, go out and enjoy the autumn hues while you can because your love of orange might not last!

Image: Flickr/ckmck under CC BY 2.0


  1. Dianna C Long on November 25, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I was brought up in a family where almost everything everyone wore and used was blue. To this day- I am tired of blue. I never buy anything blue or wear anything but jeans that is blue! I hate blue!

    • Neil Petersen on November 28, 2016 at 6:47 am

      I think blue is a little overrated. But then again, it’s the most common favorite color, so I guess that makes sense!

  2. Mary K Dyson on December 1, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    This is a pretty simplistic introduction to colour preferences. It only considers gender differences and leaves out race and ethnicity and sexual orientation.
    There are many variables at play that these “studies” don’t even mention.

    Here’s another tid bit. . . a hundred years ago in western cultures the colour RED was assigned to men and PINK to boys. It is not a natural attraction it is a social construct. Males are expected to like blue. . .

    • Neil Petersen on December 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      You’ll have to take that up with the researchers. 😉

      I’m not sure whether any studies have been done looking at the other demographic variables you mentioned. In this case, I’d guess the researchers chose to concentrate on gender since color preference is especially closely linked to gender socialization, so studying the former is an indirect way of learning about the latter.

      But there are definitely other interesting studies to be done looking at other variables. That’s what keeps science interesting, I guess. 🙂

    • Wolverine Otter on December 6, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Yeah, they did focus mainly on gender being the main reason. I guess we could turn this into a “nurture vs. nature” thing if we wanted. Some girls might be born enjoying pink, because they grew up around pink and were kind of expected to like pink. Whereas men might like blue, because that was the color associated with their gender.

      Then again, if that were true, personality would also depict color preference. Take for example, a girl who was expected to like pink, but then one day might be told that pink was the “stereotype color,” this might trigger a reaction because of a belief the girl in question has: that stereotypes are bad. This would then turn into a morality topic. Take me, for example. I liked red when I was younger, then learned that pink was a “girly” color. So I decided to choose a “masculine” color (green) as my favorite, because I did not want to follow the stereotype.

      But in truth, I don’t have a favorite color. I like any color that looks rich and deep, like an emerald green, a rich chocolatey brown, and even a dark scarlet-like red. This is just my take on colors, however, and I understand that some enjoy more chalky colors like light blue, yellow, or pink.

      • Elizabeth R III or L.E. Shepard on December 9, 2016 at 8:44 pm

        Nice personal research; good insights.