December 19, 2014 @ Biomedcentral
Development of a novel way of identifying color choice and its validation in healthy, anxious and depressed individuals.
We have recently been studying the imagery of irritable bowel syndrome and shown that patients who have an image of their condition respond better to hypnotherapy than those who don’t. Furthermore, the response was even better if the image was in color. This has led us to speculate that how patients relate their illness or mood to color might be an area worthy of further investigation.
Colors are frequently used to describe emotions such as ‘green with envy’, ‘red with rage’ and being ‘in the blues’ when depressed. Although there is a large, often anecdotal, literature on color preferences, as well as the relationship of color to mood and emotion there has been relatively little systematic research on the subject. Furthermore we could not find a single validated questionnaire specifically designed to rapidly identify color preferences in any previous investigations. When instruments have been developed such as the Color Pyramid test, the Rorschach Inkblot test, the Lüscher Color test, the Lowenfeld Mosaic test and the Stroop test they have been designed more to interpret, for instance personality or cognitive processing, rather than allowing a subject to simply select a single color to represent their mood or disease.
It was therefore felt that it would be worth developing a color questionnaire which could present a reasonably wide range of colors in the form of a palette, similar to those used in paint charts, which would suit our purpose but may also have utility in a wide range of other areas of investigation and diagnosis. Validation was undertaken in normal individuals with respect to their ‘drawn to’, ‘favourite’ and ‘mood’ color choice with the purpose of identifying a ‘normal range’ of responses. In addition, anxious and depressed subjects were also studied as it was anticipated that their color choice might be distorted by their mood and this would aid the validation process by assessing discrimination between mood states. Furthermore, it was considered likely that different shades of the same color, for instance pale green and dark green, could have completely different connotations for the individual. Consequently, the positive and negative attributions of the colors in the questionnaire were also assessed as part of the validation process.
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