When I was young, differently flavoured crisps came in distinctly different coloured bags; plain crisps were red, cheese and onion were green and salt and vinegar were blue. Generally these colour codes are still used today – at least in the UK. However, one manufacturer (Walkers) is breaking these long-standing rules.
Research at the University of Oxford was recently reported that concludes that the colour of the bag can affect the taste of the crisps inside because of our expectations. It turns out that crisp manufacturers are putting pressure on Walkers to sort their act out and conform to the old rules.
ps. For readers in the USA, we are talking about potato chips.
Excellent article based on an extract from Nina Jablonski’s book “Living Colour: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Colour” about early ideas about the relationship between skin colour and personality.
The first scientific classification of humans, published by Carl Linnaeus in 1735, was simple and separated people into four varieties by skin colour and continent. Later, Linnaeus added that Europeans were white and “sanguine,” Asians were brown and “melancholic,” Native Americans were red and “choleric” and Africans were black and “phlegmatic”. Of course, these racist pronouncements were based on prejudice and myth and little, if any, factual information. Nevertheless, these ideas led to an intellectual foundation for racism. Immanuel Kant, was the first to formally define races and in 1785 classified people into four fixed races, which were arrayed in a hierarchy according to colour and talent. It sounds like a really interesting book on anthropology and I’ll order a copy tomorrow. I’ll try to remember to comment when I have read the full book.
Four temperaments is a proto-psychological interpretation of the ancient medical concept of humorism and suggests that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors. The temperaments are sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (introverted and thoughtful), and phlegmatic (relaxed and quiet).
What is it about taxis that makes colour so controversial?
In 2009 I posted about the situation in Derby (UK) where the council introduced a new rule saying that all official taxis should be yellow and then got into trouble when they said that one taxi driver’s taxi was not exactly the right shade of yellow. How did they specify the colour?
A couple of years later there was a major political storm over a proposal for Durham (also UK – ooops …. embarrassing!!!) to adopt white as the official taxi colour.
Then in 2012 I wrote about taxi colour in Beijing. Well, this was not exactly news but by now taxi colour was starting to interest me!!
But guess what? Today, another genuine taxi colour story. This time it is in USA. The D.C. Taxicab Commission’s One Color Panel recommended Wednesday that District taxis be coloured red. Apparently, “Red is a color that is strongly associated with the District, both among residents and visitors,” the colour panel said in a statement. “The Stars and Bars of the District flag are red. Each of the major sports franchises in the District has a shade of red as a prominent part of the uniform. In the area of transportation, both the District’s Circulator bus and the Capital BikeShare vehicles are red.” All taxis will be required to change to the new colour within five years.
According to a recent study eye colour plays a role in deciding how trustworthy others will think you are. Researchers simply asked a group of people to rate the trustworthiness of male and female faces. It was found that a majority of people found people with brown eyes to appear more trustworthy. This was true for both sexes but particularly so for men.
But it turns out that it is face shape that is more important and eye colour is a major factor because brown-eyed people tend to have certain facial characteristics. For the original story see here.
If you like colour you may just love this picture. I do. It’s from the Sydney colour run for further details and a larger version of the image see the original story in The Guardian.
According to this article black and white is back in fashion this year. Hopefully one day soon brown and beige will be back and I will once more be a fashionable gent about town!
Colour Forecasting is big business. What is it? Well, if you search on the internet you may find something like this:
Design firms and retail markets utilize forecasting services to predict trends in color. Color forecasting helps designers (who work a season ahead) what fabrics and styles will be popular in future months or years. Color forecasting resources help predict trends in the fashion industry, and also home home design.
This suggests that colour forecasting predicts which colours will be fashionable in the future; for example, next year. However, I think there is another way to look at it. I am not at all sure that it is a prediction process at all; I prefer to refer to it as a marketing process. This is what happens. A group of people work very hard and have a great deal of expertise and through their activity and global network they produce a ‘prediction’ of what colour will be popular next year. Normally the prediction is not a single colour but a colour palette; but for simplicity let’s assume that it is a single colour and it’s red. The last thing retailers want is stock they cannot sell so they are very keen to find out what the colour forecasters are saying. When they hear that red is going to be popular they make sure that they purchase and stock large amounts of red stuff. Fashion magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue want readers to buy their magazines and want to be seen to be on trend and so they publish story after story about how the next big thing is going to be red. Now think about the consumer. The fashion magazines are full of red and the stores are full of red. What do you think the consumer is going to buy? Can you see why I think the process is more about consumer manipulation than it is about prediction (in the scientific sense)?
Actually, that colour forecasting is not a really a prediction process isn’t even my main gripe. Rather, it is that colour forecasting (and the fashion industry more generally) encourages people to buy more clothes than they need. Do we really need to keep up with the latest fashions? Our consumption of textiles is already unsustainable and we cannot go on behaving as we have done in the past.
One of the final-year students in the School of Design at the University of Leeds is undertaking a research dissertation in this area which I am supervising. She’s running a short questionnaire and needs as many people as possible to complete it. It’s very short; please take a look here.
University of Leeds Campus
I am very lucky to be working with Sea-hwa Won from South Korea who is here in Leeds for three years undertaking a PhD in colour design. Her PhD is about …. well, I can’t tell you that yet because it might influence the answers you give to her on-line survey. She has just launched an on-line survey about colour and product design and it would be great if you would help her research by clicking on the link below and completing the survey. Later, when the survey is complete I will say something about what the research is about.
Click here to take the colour survey. It only takes a minute of your time and for that you will receive the warm glow of satisfaction that you have contributed to the advancement of colour science.
In July of this year the UK is hosting the 12th International Congress of the International Colour Association. We have received over 600 submissions from people who would like to present their work and so it looks as though we can have a very successful conference. If you have an interest in colour then this is the place to be this year – for further details visit http://aic2013.org/
A new study by academics at the University of Colorado suggests that the colour ink you use when providing comments and feedback to students can alter their perception of criticism and place unnecessary blame on the teacher for bad marks or feedback. According to the researchers teachers should use a blue pen if they want their comments to be taken in a constructive manner. The full research paper is available online here.