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Kalay‐Shahin et al., (2016)

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20 Comments to “Kalay‐Shahin et al., (2016)”
  1. Pashminder Kaur says:

    I actually enjoyed reading Kalay Shahin, Choen, Lemberg, Harary and Lobel (2016) article on “Seeing the World through “Pink Colored Glasses”: The Link between Optimism and Pink.” This article really captured my attention how they associated pink color with optimistic words and black color with pessimistic words. Not only that, I respect the fact that they used other color as well in different experiments; such as, blue and black color associating it with either optimistic or pessimistic words as well as pink and yellow color associated with control and experimental group for optimistic terms. The reason why I liked the fact that they used more than one color was because pink is mostly associated with female; whereas, blue is mostly associated with male. It was quite interesting to find that in the experiment 1A, pink colored optimistic words and black color pessimistic words were quickly identified faster in male but no difference in females; whereas, in experiment 1B, female reacted faster than males overall but no difference in identifying the words quickly. I would expect women to identify quicker than men in experiment1A- since pink is mostly positively associated with female and blue color is mostly associated with male.
    In addition, it would be interesting if the participant have chosen a particular color that they associate positive terms with as well as a color that they associates negative terms with. I say this because, in my perspective, I view the color green as positive/optimistic way; whereas, I view the color gray as negative/ gloomy way- therefore the results may vary depending on the color perceived as optimistic/pessimistic. In addition, it would be exciting to see if the results in the current experiment, focusing on the first experiment, would stay the same when presenting this experiment to older participants instead of college participants itself.
    Overall, I enjoyed this article and would like the future researchers to use various colors instead of 3 colors +black only and see if that may affect the present results. Also, it would be great to observe other colors (other than pink and blue) enhancing optimism level in either male or female.

    • Kathryn Dana says:

      Hi Pashminder! I agree- it would have been very interesting to see other “optimistic” colors explored in this experiment- particularly for male participants who had the potential conflict of interpreting pink as feminine.

  2. Kathryn Dana says:

    I found the article by Kalay Shahin, Choen, Lemberg, Harary and Lobel (2016) to be an interesting read. I have never considered a color to be interpreted as a metaphor before, and I found the authors’ approach to be unique. While I found the overall methodology to be sound, I do have some questions about the conclusions that the authors drew based on their results. At times, their interpretations of the results appeared to be a bit of a stretch. For example, the authors had a fairly specific interpretation of their finding in Experiment 1. In this experiment, they found that there was an interaction between color and valence, and that both males and females interpreted the color pink with its stereotypically gendered meaning. The authors then went on to claim that the relationship between optimism and valence may be “stroop-like”, such that when color and word valence are not congruent, there is a response conflict in the participant. To me, this felt like a leap. As it is, these findings rest on the assumption that pink is a “metaphor” for optimism, which is a theory that is difficult to support empirically. To take this a step further and imply that a stroop-like effect is occurring in this experiment seems strange to me.

    In Experiment 2, the authors found that the color pink was not associated with optimism levels for males when compared with the color yellow. Again, I felt that the authors took a leap with their interpretation of this finding by saying that pink is a metaphor for both optimism and femininity, and that the femininity component of pink was stronger for males than the optimism component. According to the authors, this stronger salience of femininity rather than optimism in males’ interpretation of pink led to their optimism levels not being significantly influenced by the color pink. It seems to me that there are many potential explanations for this finding, and that it is misleading to imply that this one explanation that fits the authors’ overall hypothesis is the most plausible explanation.

    • Pashminder Kaur says:

      Kathryn- We have similar thoughts! I never knew a color could be interpret as a metaphor- especially with the term optimistic or pessimistic. Also, I agree with you on the result sections for both experiment, especially experiment 2- to rule out the confound, they should’ve used a different color other than pink that relates to optimistic or pessimistic for both male and female.

    • Tiara Newson says:

      Hi Kathryn. I definitely agree about stretching the results. Their hypotheses were supported, yet they needed more information to fill in the article. Keeping it simple may have made their point clearer. But overall they did a good job with the study. I really enjoyed reading it. What interested me most was learning that other countries associate pink with optimism, just as we do with the expression “rose colored glasses”. This was a very unique study that really stands out.

    • Gabriella Robinson says:

      Great post Kathryn. I agree with your second point about there was a leap regarding the gender aspects of pink. The authors mentioned since males react faster to pink and they also react faster to pessimistic words, suggest that males perceive pink in a negative manner (which led them to react faster to pink), also alluding to gender non-normative/being socially deviant in regards to “males associated with pink”. They “determined” since x, y, coupled with z happened then “it must be the case” that males perceive pink in a negative manner. While in research we try to make sense of what we find, I think the authors could’ve phrased their decision as an educated guess rather than something they definitively proved/gathered based on piecing information together and citing one other study that “suggested” at age 2 boys show deviant behavior towards pink.

    • Lexi says:

      Would adding a group of feminine words maybe help tease apart some of these claims? The researchers could maybe ascertain how much faster males responded to feminine words appearing in the congruent pink condition than females did? I haven’t fully flushed out this idea but there must be a way to offer more evidence to support the claims they’re making.

  3. Aditya Kulkarni says:

    For this week, I’ve decided to reflect on the Kalay-Shahin et al., 2015 paper: “Seeing the World Through ‘Pink Colored Glasses’: The Link Between Optimism and Pink.” The topic of “grounded cognition” is rather fascinating, given its attempts to draw a link between physiological phenotypes and abstract, higher-order concepts like morality, and in this case optimism. The age-old adage that purposive smiling can influence our cognition and vice-versa is a cool bio-feedback mechanism, and for this paper, the visual stream taking in the color “pink” is the bio-feedback loop of choice. The authors in their discussion discuss that there is a conflict of representation for pink to boys and girls (femininity and optimism), with femininity being a quality that the former eschews to preserve some sense of masculinity (and indirectly negativity? Dissonance?). If we were to carry forward this experiment, would 1) this problem persist with a color like blue, which carries both positive and negative connotations, depending on hue?; 2) would a range of colors on the ROYGBIV spectrum elicit any interactions that would wash out the ends of the spectrum? We see that bright colors like yellow increase positivity on the PANAS, but not LOT-R scores, but pessimism can be elicited from hues of the same color, thus perhaps not the color but shade of color influencing our perception. Pink is also rather interesting to be positive, given that in an evolutionary context, outside of blood, and sunsets, pink isn’t a very observed color for our ancestors unless around a herd of flamingos (which definitely make everyone feel better about their perhaps poor dance skills); rather green, yellow, blue, etc., are much more common and thus curious as to why they wouldn’t elicit optimism for sustenance, food etc. Red may be the underlying culprit, that if split into shades of red, we can see where the succulent strawberry breaks away from a murky maroon. I appreciate their analysis of brightness inter-color, but to carry forward, an internal examination of brightness within shade, and a range of pessimistic colors would give more credence to the grounded cognitive view of color and feeling.

    • Daniel Saldana says:

      Aditya, interesting comment as to why pink may be evolutionarily related to optimism. What comes to mind is the red dress effect. The color red is often associated with readiness for sexual reproduction. Studies have shown that non-human primate species are attracted to the redness in certain areas of the female’s body (e.g., face, genitalia)that turn red as a consequence of increased estrogen levels. Perhaps pink (being a sort of shade ? of red) brings to mind the optimism of procreating and having one’s genes pass on to the next generation.

    • Caroline Nester says:

      Aditya, I (like Daniel) was drawn to your comment about the evolutionary implications of the color pink – I agree that it must be its rareness in nature that signifies optimism and general attraction to it. What you said about red makes me think of what my high school art teacher used to say all the time – “pink is just light red” – it is literally white mixed into red. So when you think about it – pink as an independent color from red – is really a modern construct. Our evolutionary ancestors would’ve almost certainly found pink (i.e. light red) to be rare and interesting – probably generally positively associated.

    • Emnet Gammada says:

      Aditya, great post! I also enjoyed reading about the theory of grounded cognition, suggesting that all cognitive phenomena emerge from a variety of bodily, affective, perceptual, and motor processes. I particularly appreciated how you weaved together the theory with evolutionary implications for this particular study.

    • Carly Tocco says:

      I too thought about what the experiment would look like if it were changed to blue. It is interesting to read your comments about how pink is not a commonly observed color. Danny’s comment below which touches on red being evolutionarily seductive as a consequence of estrogen was something I did not consider, but seems pertinent to explore given the paper topic. I agree that looking at shade and brightness as moderators may have helped make the paper stronger, but overall loved reading about how cognitive processes come from bodily experiences.

  4. Melissa Chavez says:

    Kalay-Shahin et al., (2016) approached the concept of optimism by relating it to the color pink. This link was investigated through three experiments. In experiment 1A, 22 undergraduates were requested to categorize words as optimistic or pessimistic as quick as possible. Some of the words were demonstrated in pink while others in black. Experiment 1B presented an identical method as 1A, except for the color of the words—black and light blue. Experiment 2 disclosed 144 participants to the colors of pink and yellow and then their optimism level was calculated. Through their measures they established that Experiments 1A and 1B had a correlation between pink and optimism. Experiment 2 found that minor disclosure to pink expanded optimism levels for females.
    In general, I have always been very intrigued by why some individuals are more optimistic than others. However, I never really compared this trait to colors (other than the concept of mood rings; which in my opinion doesn’t work at all) and this is why I found this article mind- altering. I couldn’t help myself question whether it is accurate to put so much meaning into how we visually perceive colors. By that I mean, every individual has a color preference, in knowing that; how can we associate them with certain moods, emotions, even values into this experiment if they are highly individual and subjective? My other concern is color preferences could be seen as adaptive and may change over time. For example, when I was a young girl my favorite color was pink so perhaps I would have associated this color as optimism as well. However, developing into my teens it became black and later it being turquoise. So this inconsistency makes me question how strong can this link between color and optimism may really be? This article particularly interests me because it also makes you question where or why these color preferences exist. I enjoyed reading this and questioning what makes me an optimistic person. Is it the color I’m wearing that day? Is it the color of the sky, my environment? Perhaps, I’ll attempt this little experiment on my own to find out! ☺

    • Ashley Olivera says:

      When I first read the following study, it immediately reminded me of the Asch study, where they associated two words “warm” and “cold” with positive or negative influences. I’m curious to know where these preconceived associations come from when it comes to color. Whenever I think of the color pink, I associate it with innocence and a warm butterfly feeling, which can be due to the association of a newborn baby girl, and the feeling one gets when one is blushing. I like how you pointed out that this optimistic point of view can vary among individuals according to one’s own color preference. Red is commonly associated with passion and anger. In this case, where one color can be associated with a pessimistic (anger) and optimistic (passion) perspective, how does one explain these cases?

    • Mahathi Kosuri says:

      Melissa- great point about the value and perception of color changing over time for an individual. I completely agree that a color such as pink can be a girl or boys’ favorite (most probably due to repetitive exposure to the child/ societal pressures) when they are young, which would provide a feeling of optimism. And like you, during my teenage angsty years, my favorite color changed due to societal pressures, the image to look non-optimistic/ angry teen. The perception of color and feeling is quite hard to correlate but the article shed light on some interesting findings. Hahaha hope your experiment goes well!

  5. Lexi Pritchett says:

    This study reminded me of the idea that synesthesia-like associations linking two different sensory systems can occur naturally. I can’t recall the name of the researchers but there is a paradigm in which two shapes are presented with two possible labels to pair the shapes with. The label that sounds “curvy” was typically paired with the curvy shape at a higher than chance rate. So building off these other findings it would make sense that features like colors may naturally be associated with other modalities (beyond simply visual). So I found the idea of demonstrating these associations interesting. However, I found myself unsure of whether I thought of the results as a biologically driven phenomena (there’s just something about how human brains interpret the color pink), verses more of a social learning explanation. The gender differences that pink selectively enhanced optimism in females seem to support more of a learned bias. I can’t think of a biological reason why this was only found in females. I wouldn’t know if biologically there is any reason a young female child would prefer the color pink at early ages, but the societal trend to associate this color with femininity is an interesting theoretical lens to evaluate gender differences in optimism.

    Aside from the color associations, I was curious why the optimistic words had a faster reaction time. It felt hard to explain some of the gender differences observed. I feel like it’s more adaptive to respond faster to negative words. The later finding that males responded faster to negative words maybe made sense if the males, in theory, are assuming the role of “protector” who must be more sensitive to negative cues, and is typically considered a more male role.

    Lastly, the situational influence on optimism made me think about how moderate levels of a provoking situation are needed in order to observe individual differences in traits like aggression. I wonder if this is true of optimism as well.

    • Hande says:

      Hi Lexi,

      I agree with you when it comes to whether the association of pink with optimism is due to biological reasons vs societal trends. Having said that authors did a good job and it was an interesting study. But, I would’ve liked to see more on “positive affect” since they seemed to not even acknowledge it until the very end, and even then it was just; “pink doesn’t influence positivity”. Even though, it wasn’t a part of their hypothesis, I think positivity and optimism are very much related to each other.

    • Aditya Kulkarni says:

      Hey Lexi,

      I like your skepticism into why biologically (or evolutionarily)there would be a push to select for pink as an “optimistic cue”, that too particularly for females it seems, and a very visceral negative reaction from males. I think the males’ overall faster reaction times to negative words in pink, serve an aversion to pink rather than an internal, frontally-mediated process to the word, else we would see that neutral words in pink would elicit some longer responsne times (an experiment they should have done to dissociate the faster reaction time overall from the nature of the word).

    • Melissa Chavez says:

      Hi Lexi,

      I agree, I also found myself questioning whether the findings were biologically driven or a more socially learn explanation. However, if it were biologically driven then wouldn’t we say that the color pink would naturally and instinctually associate with support and comfort . So that being said, maybe its more of a social bias because we were taught to associate colors such as pink and blue to girls and boys.

    • Susie McHugh says:

      Lexi, I like all of your points… I had a hard time evaluating this one, as I haven’t thought too much about how colors map on to any psychological constructs, or personality traits. When I really consider it, I think the one stimulus I might link pink with girls via is that most flowers are pink, and I think flowers tend to be innately associated with femininity. I’m not sure how true this is, of course, and am just speculating.

      I also agree that it seems negative words would be more adaptive to respond to quickly. Perhaps men as protectors were more likely to respond to potential threats, as evoked by “pessimistic” stimuli. Women may be more likely to fall in with Pink Optimism, adhering to female descriptors like “sweet” and “warm.”

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