How People Perceive Color Around the World

What 2,200 people worldwide taught us about color theory

Cassandra King
Published in
10 min readSep 11, 2019


Photo: Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

HHow are different colors perceived from one country to the next? That’s what we set out to learn in our recent color survey sent to 2,200 people around the world. We wanted to get a more personal insight into color theory and how it varies across regions and nationalities.

We were also curious about the way different colors are perceived and the emotions attached to them. This is where color theory really lives — not in the saturation, hues, and tones (though these are also important), but in the feeling and meaning they transfer.

The process with which we see color is a little complicated (yes, color is a science!). Our eyes have light receptors that transmit messages to the brain. The human eye sees the light, then tells the brain what color it is based on familiar sensations from that color.

Which is to say, we’re not born inherently knowing that grass is green and water is blue. We train our brains to recognize these colors and their different hues. It’s basic memorization, which makes sense when you think about all those color games children play.

To tap into how people describe colors and what they mean, we sent a survey to entrepreneurs in 50+ countries and asked them to describe eight different colors in one word.

Red color associations
Illustrations courtesy of Looka.


  • Passion (10.58%)
  • Love (10.49%)
  • Power (6.63%)
  • Anger (5.36%)
  • Blood (5.31%)
  • Danger (4.68%)

Red is an intense color that can have drastically different meanings to different people. According to our survey, red is most often associated with passion and love, making up 10.58% and 10.49% of responses, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, red can also be tied to anger and power.

Of note, respondents in Indonesia related red to bravery and blood. In Kenya, the color is most often associated with danger.



Cassandra King
Writer for

Content marketer, photographer / videographer, and road trip aficionado. Glitter makes everything better 💫