By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 18 November 2009)
There is evidence that colour can affect people’s moods and emotions, but does the colour of cars say anything about their owners’ psyche or temperament? Although research into the connection between car colour choices and personality is sparse, there have been a couple of studies that have generated some interesting results.
According to Eiseman (2003), Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, drivers of red cars are dynamic, high-energy people with sex appeal. A UK study backed this assertion, finding that red cars were most often chosen by outspoken, energetic individuals (Colburn Group Insurance, April 2009). However, an American study conducted by CNW Marketing Research found that many drivers of red cars lacked confidence (Newman, 12 May 2008).
A New Zealand study of serious crashes (those causing injury) conducted by Furness et al. (2003) found that red cars had a higher likelihood of being involved in accidents than grays, silvers, and blues, but lower than blacks, and much lower than browns and yellows.
The UK study found yellow cars are often associated with an upbeat, optimistic personality, which is in keeping Eiseman’s assertion that yellow cars are driven by those with joyful, sunny, youthful dispositions. The CNW study, by contrast, associated yellow cars with a lack of confidence.
The New Zealand crash study found that drivers of yellow cars may be a little too optimistic. They had the highest percentage of crashes in relation to their total numbers, although the likelihood of crashing was reduced significantly when the researchers controlled for driver age, speed, use of drugs and alcohol, and other factors.
Findings for green cars differed significantly from one study to the next. Eiseman notes that drivers of dark green cars tend to be trustworthy, traditional in outlook, and well-balanced in temperament, whereas those who drive bright yellow-green cars are inclined to be lively, trendy, and whimsical. The UK study found that drivers of green cars are perhaps a little too whimsical – this colour was associated with hysterical tendencies. The CNW study found green car drivers to be the most confident overall, though prone to mood swings.
Green cars showed a similar risk to red in the New Zealand crash study (and even higher when confounding variables were taken into account).
Eiseman associates light- to mid-blue cars with a quiet, faithful, calm temperament, and dark blue with credibility, confidence, and dependability. The CNW study found drivers of bright blue cars to be lacking in confidence and drivers of dark blue cars to have above-average confidence. The UK study found drivers of blue cars to be more cautious and introspective, on average.
In the New Zealand study, blue cars had a slightly lower risk of being involved in crashes than red, green, or black, and a much lower risk than yellow or brown.
Eiseman notes that drivers of purple cars tend to be individualistic, original, and creative. Neither the personality studies nor the crash study covered purple cars, likely because of their relative rarity.
Eiseman asserts that gray cars tend to be driven by pragmatic, sober, corporate types, in keeping with the UK study, which found them to be sober, calm, and hardworking. The CNW study indicated that drivers of gray cars have above-average confidence.
Supporting these associations, the New Zealand study found gray cars to have a relatively low crash rate compared to most other colours.
According to Eiseman, white cars are associated with a fastidious nature. The UK study found that they were often preferred by status-seeking extroverts, and the New Zealand crash study found that white cars had a mid-range crash rate, similar to that of red and green.
The UK study found that cream-coloured cars were often driven by reserved, self-contained people who were less likely to be involved in accidents. As the New Zealand study provided no crash data for cream-coloured cars, there is no evidence to either support or refute this assertion.
Eiseman associates black cars with an empowered personality, not easily manipulated. The UK study found that black cars were usually driven by aggressive outsiders with a high accident risk, and the CNW study found that they were often severely lacking in confidence.
The New Zealand crash data supports the latter two profiles, finding black cars to have a relatively high accident risk.
Eiseman associates silver cars with elegant, cool, futuristic personalities. The CNW study found that drivers of silver cars were more likely to have a higher-than-average level of confidence, and the UK study found them to be calm, cool, and somewhat detached.
Support for this calm, confident persona is provided by the fact that silver cars were found to have the lowest likelihood of being involved in serious crashes by the New Zealand researchers.
Eiseman asserts that orange cars are favoured by talkative, fickle, fun-loving, and trendy individuals, whereas the CNW study associated orange cars with low and fluctuating confidence levels. No crash data was provided for orange cars.
According to Eiseman, a preference for brown cars indicates a no-nonsense, down-to-earth personality. However, caution may not be a feature of this type. The New Zealand study found that the crash rate for brown cars was second only to yellow.
The UK study found that pink cars are most commonly driven by gentle, loving people. No information on pink cars was provided by the other studies.
- Colburn Group Insurance. (April 2009). “Car Color May Reflect Your Personality.” ColburnGroup.com.
- Eiseman, L. (2003). The Color Answer Book. Herndon, VA: Capital Books, Inc.
- Furness, S.; Connor, J.; Robinson, E.; Norton, R.; Ameratunga, S.; & Jackson, R. (2003). “Car Colour and Risk of Car Crash Injury: Population Based Case Control Study.” BMJ, 327(27).
- Newman, R. (12 May 2008). “What Your Car Color Reveals About Your Psyche.” U.S. News and World Report.