Individual colors can have a variety of different meanings and associations for different people. A color that is favored by one person, may be despised by another. The color preferred by individuals is blue (Wiggeries & Van Loon, 1989). Although, it is preferred, it does not mean it is universally favored. Understanding of blue comes from analyzing different interpretations and associations people have with it. These different interpretations arise from varying cultures (Slam, 2006), subcultures and individual preferences.
The associations individuals have with varying colors depends on age (Getter, 2001; Kara & Kara, 1988), gender (Pedro et. Al. , 2007) and personality or familiarity (Center, 2001; Nava 2006). The versatility between color interpretations can arise from differing cultures, (Slam, 2006). Blue has this versatility. In an Angelinos cultural cluster, blue is perceived as a cooperate color with masculine and high quality meanings. Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures have similar associations with the color, viewing it as being high quality and trust worthy.
However, it is viewed by the Nordic culture as being cold and masculine. This is similar to the SEAN culture viewing it as an evil color, as opposed to the Germanic culture, which views blue as a feminine and warm color. It has been shown that blue is the preferred color in countries that view this color with positive connotations. This is known as the blue phenomenon. However, it is not universal, with the Netherlands preferring red and South Africa black (Wiggeries & Van Loon, 1989). This alone shows color meanings and associations, specifically blue, are not universal throughout cultures and countries.
Not only does the meaning of color differ between cultures but it also differs in sub- cultures. A sub-culture is one that differentiates from a larger culture. Within Australia there are various different ethnic, regional, economic and social groups, which form sub-cultures. They also occur within universities, for example, SST Andrews residential college in Sydney University. A light blue color differentiates this college from other colleges and students within the university. The light blue lour is seen on the crest, Jerseys and other attire.
The, ‘basic idea of the crest coming from the Scottish blue’, reveals that this color has a symbolic association with the Scottish culture, forming a subcultures association in Australia and a specific membership (About the College, 2007). A similar light blue is seen in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Rather than a social subculture, this would be seen as an economic one. Therefore, the symbolism of this light blue color meaning is not universal and certainly would not hold the same symbolic association for all.
Aside from culture, color can hold different meanings for individuals depending on age. The study conducted by Center et, Al. , revealed children associated blue with sadness and anger. However, when color- emotion mapping was experimented on adults this did not occur. Adults associated black with sadness and red with anger. (Kara & Kara, 1988). Red was the preferred color for younger individuals and there was a well-established preference for blue in adults. Therefore, the meaning and symbolic association of blue is not universal among individuals.
Age is not the only aspect, which differentiates color individuals. Men and women may experience color perceptually and cognitively differently. This is due to physiological differences in the male and female body (Pedro et, Al. , 2007). It has been shown males prefer the color blue, whilst females prefer a lavender color (Chon, 2007). Therefore, the association of the color blue as being a favorite, varies among individuals depending on gender. Color meanings and associations may be affected by an individual’s personality (Slam,2006).
This may include what an individual is familiar with or, similarly too subculture, how they wish to present themselves. Nava, 2006, explores the idea of personality affecting the meaning of a color to individuals. The color blue is considered by some, as calming however by others blue is considered as dull and cold. Other colors also support this idea, for example green. Some people viewed green with excitement, confidence and purity. However others associated it with boredom, and fearfulness. The idea of familiarity is shown in children.
Children are ore likely to pick bright colors, to associate with happy emotions (for example, bright blue) and dark colors (black) to associate with sad emotions. This is association is thought to occur due to most children books being composed of bright and dark colors (Center, 2001). Therefore, familiarity and one’s personality or how they wish to present themselves varies color preference to create a certain meaning. In conclusion, culture, subculture and individuality varies color associations and meaning, with the specific focus of blue.