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Why most people’s favorite color is blue

alex ioana
Apr 9, 2017 · 12 min read
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There are more colors than first meets the eye

The science of color points to it as the resulting sensation our eyes pick up from light refraction. Taking this into account, we might as well just say that color is only that which we (humans) can distinguish — and as such the tally would revolve from somewhere around 1 million to about 7 million, with a lot of leeway at the top part of the range.

We might see the same thing, but it’s likely we understand different things

Isaac Newton is credited with having created the bias we have for the colors of the rainbow (and, of course, having pushed chromatic theory into the scientific paradigm) once he described the way white light splits into distinguishable colors after passing through a prism. What’s more, he also showed how one could re-create white light by passing different wavelengths of light back through a prism.

Colors are built into the way we function as a species

Still, humans have tried to put color in a taxonomy ever since taxonomies came about. One of the earliest color charts was devised in 1686 by a man named Richard Waller — and was a structured attempt at showing how colors shade into one another and how they interact.

Attempting to quantify the uncountable

Recent studies have come to shine a new light on our perception of color, as it seems that we take it in twice: our initial reactions to color are instinctual, and yet we also have the ability to take a second jab at color due to our metacognition.

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How the color blue took over the world

There are a lot of explanations behind how we react to colors, but the gist of it comes down to a few principles: colors carry meaning for us, and that meaning can be both innate or acquired. Either way, individual experience and perception of color occurs without requiring any mental strain on our part, and as such colors can (and do) cause us to act in certain ways depending on the contexts we’re in — leading to both a preference for some, and an inclination to do certain things or react in certain ways according to what colors we see.

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Other references (and suggested reading on the topic):

King, “Human Color Perception, Cognition, and Culture: Why ‘Red’ is Always Red” IS&T Vol 20 Feb, 2005

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