Exploring Colour-Shape Associations: Individual Variation in Colour Preferences

Sofie Imer Jespersen, Aurore Zelazny, Thomas Alrik Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPosterResearchpeer-review


Synaesthesia is a phenomenon where the brain seemingly links often unrelated features with each other, e.g. the sound of a tone or the shape of a letter also elicit a colour sensation. Nevertheless, in the general population we tend to see similar crossover associations. However, a difference between synaesthesia and cross-modal correspondence is that the associations for synaesthetes are largely idiosyncratic, whereas cross-modal correspondence emerge as a group effect (Deroy, & Spence, 2013). Recently, Zelazny, Liu, and Sørensen (2023) investigated colour-shape associations in a large sample and found that, even though general shape-colour associations emerged there was also wide inter-individual variations between participants. Chen and colleagues (2023) indicate that individual shape-colour association preferences might affect feature binding, nevertheless the congruency conditions reflected the significant associations found at the group level. The present study investigates whether a similar effect can be found when stimuli congruency is built based on each participant’s individual shape-colour association preference. Prior to the experiment participants could freely choose their preferred colour on a full colour wheel for each of the three shapes used. Notably, some participants deviated from colour preferences reported at the group level. During testing, participants were briefly presented with two different shapes in colours either congruent or incongruent to their preference and were asked to report the displayed colour of one of those shapes. Incongruent trials resulted in significantly higher amount of binding errors compared to congruent trials. This suggests that incongruence in individual shape-colour association preferences contributes to an increased likelihood of binding errors, shedding light on the degree of inter-individual variations for shape-colour associations in non-synesthetes, and their involvement in feature binding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date10 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2024
EventJoint International Synaesthesia Conference - Somerville College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 May 202412 May 2024
Conference number: 1


ConferenceJoint International Synaesthesia Conference
LocationSomerville College
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Cross-modal correspondence
  • Colour
  • Individual Variation
  • Colour-Shape Associations


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