A Critical Analysis of Colour-Shape Correspondences: Examining the Replicability of Colour-Shape Associations.
Dreksler N., Spence C.
Research on the topic of colour-shape correspondences started in the early 20th century with the Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky. However, more recently, the topic has been examined using the empirical framework of crossmodal correspondences research. The field remains one in which consistent results and generalisable hypotheses about the existence and nature of colour-shape correspondences are lacking. The replicability and consistency of findings concerning colour-shape correspondences are examined in three online colour-shape matching experiments using the same procedure and study design while varying the sets of shape stimuli that are evaluated. Participants matched one of 36 colours to each shape as well as made preference and arousal appraisal ratings for each of the shapes and colours. The complexities of analysing colour-shape correspondence data are discussed and illustrated by classifying and analysing shape and colours in a variety of different ways, including using continuous perceptual and objective measures. Significant colour-shape associations were found. However, as hypothesised, limited consistent results in regard to what perceptual shape characteristics predicted colour choices were documented across the three stimuli sets. This was the case both within and across different analysis methods. The factors that may be responsible for these inconsistencies are critically discussed. Intriguingly, however, evidence for emotional mediation, whereby shape and colour liking and arousal appraisals appear to influence the colour-shape correspondences made by participants, was found across all three experiments.