After getting more than 80 responses to my grapheme-color synesthesia survey, I discovered some very interesting trends in the synesthetic colors of numbers.

You can download the raw data in an Excel spreadsheet format here.

But first, here’s some background information I also gathered:

  • 70% of synesthetes are female
  • 86% associate (see colors in their head) rather than project (see colors in their vision)
  • At least 78% have types of synesthesia other than grapheme-color

There were 16 color options for the numbers. Here are my pie charts (made in Excel) of what colors synesthetes associate with numbers:

syn-survey-0syn-survey-1syn-survey-2syn-survey-3syn-survey-4syn-survey-5syn-survey-6syn-survey-7syn-survey-8syn-survey-9

 

I found it very interesting how some numbers were overwhelmingly associated with one or two colors, while in others the colors seemed to be evenly distributed.

Here are my thoughts.

1: It’s fascinating how 1 is predominantly white, black, red, and yellow. Is it a coincidence that these colors are said to be the first ones that enter human language?

Figure 1: Berlin and Kay’s (1969) Paradigm for the Order in which Colors are Learned

white\          /green \                   | purple
      >-->red-->        >-->blue-->brown-->| pink
black/          \yellow/                   | orange
                                           | gray

“If a language has only two colors—and all languages have at least two—they are always white and black; if a language has three colors, the one added is red; if a fourth is added, it will be either green or yellow…” (Brown 1991: 13-14).

Perhaps these colors are often associated with the number 1 because it’s the first number conceived by humans. It certainly strikes me as more than just random.

2: Also has strong leanings towards yellow and blue—the colors “learned” after the ones present for 1. Lots of red/pink too.

3: More than half of the pie chart is dedicated to yellow and green. How interesting.

4: A lot of blue and red.

5: Seemingly all over the place, but it seems to be mostly primary colors.

6: Again evenly distributed, but there’s a lot of blue, purple, pink.

7: Very similar to 3—lots of yellow and green.

8: An overwhelming amount of purple, with a lot of blue as well.

9: Seems to be evenly distributed, but interestingly has the highest percentage of black other than 0 and 1.

0: More than half is white, with a lot of grey and black as well. Doesn’t seem surprising to me—0 is essentially nothingness, which is very often represented by black or white.

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