Colours in the Garden

2016-01-12 08.31.38 smJanuary can be a pretty brown month, and it is especially brown this year, with the El Niño induced drought. So I’ve been appreciating the flowers in the garden even more than usual.

When I wandered through the garden this morning and saw this view, I had to capture it.

But why do I enjoy these bright colours? Why not appreciate the brown?

There is a great deal of speculation about our colour preferences. Some people believe that our colour preferences are evolutionarily based. The most popular colours are blue and green. These would have been important colours for our ancestors to focus on—the blue of clean water and clear skies, the green of plants.

But as far as I can tell, there’s no good data to support that theory.

And many of us like colours other than blue and green, too.

A research paper published in 2010 by psychologists Stephen Palmer and Karen Schloss at UC Berkeley found that people’s attitudes toward colours were based on their experiences with objects that were normally associated with those colours. Basically, if you like sunny days, you’ll like the colour blue. If you like tomatoes, you’ll like the colour red. (But if you like sunny days, you won’t necessarily like blue tomatoes, because you don’t expect blue to be associated with tomatoes.)

And, as you would expect, they also found that those preferences were culturally influenced, and people from different cultures had different colour preferences.

So there’s probably no evolutionary advantage to me loving this garish juxtaposition of pink, green, red and blue. I just love it because I love the garden.

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