In Western culture, pink is traditionally associated with gentleness, tenderness, and romance. But where does it come from? As with other colors, pink is intimately linked to the values and practices of our culture, which by perpetuating themselves generate social codes and individual perceptions of objects in the world.
The above has been widely studied by color psychology, thus generating different responses on meanings of the color pink, And on its connotations or its effects in cultural terms. We will see a brief description of it below.
Among other things, color psychology has taught us that chromatic stimuli are an integral part of our development. We find them in our environment and, moreover, they are not neutral stimuli: they are loaded with cultural meanings, while making it possible to evoke sensations, perceptions, thoughts, ideas, judgments, attitudes, etc. In other words, they generate effects at the psychological level.
They can even predispose us to act, for example, if we find a red signal, it is likely that our alarms in the nervous system will automatically be activated and we will prepare to flee from possible harm. Or, without necessarily being aware of it, colors can influence the aggregation we feel towards certain objects, Which ultimately has consequences in our approach to the latter.
Indeed, by perceiving colors, we activate certain impressions on objects, that is to say that through them, we can condition our perception of what surrounds us. The above goes through the symbolic meanings we have placed over time.
For example, when associating colors with natural phenomena and elements, as well as by their association with cultural variables. Goethe already said that colors, which are ultimately sensory encodings of the decomposition of natural light, produce an individual effect always linked to the moral sphere. Therefore, the colors carry social codes and they bring with them the possibility of establishing taxonomies and individual positions, in permanent connection with social norms.
More precisely, the color pink is obtained from the mixture between red and white, and its name in Spanish comes precisely from the varieties of roses that have flourished in many parts of the world. This word comes from Latin and Greek, which were used to name the same flower, and which in turn comes from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning “hawthorn”.
Meaning of rose in psychology
According to the research of Eva Heller (2004), a pioneer in studies of the psychology of color, pink he increases his preference index according to the age of the people. Being a young color, it is generally more appreciated by the elderly.
It also often evokes positive feelings related to kindness, delicacy, gentleness, as well as childishness and insomnia. However, this itself generates an ambivalent meaning, since it is also linked to “cheesy”, which can cause the rejection of several people.
The former becomes more complex when pink is mixed with other colors. For example, next to white can represent innocence; and on the black and purple side, it can be more closely related to eroticism and seduction. Also mixed with black, it can be associated with tensions between the delicate and the rough, the sensitivity and the insensitivity.
To study the above, Manav (2007) assessed the relationship between emotions and chromatic stimuli, finding that sensations of pleasure, joy and warmth they were mainly related to pink and yellow stimuli.
One striking thing has been the practical use derived from this association. For example, participants showed a preference for placing the color pink in the interior of their bedrooms, and especially in rooms where children sleep.
Some cultural connotations of this color
We have seen that in Western culture, the color pink was traditionally associated with ethereal, sweet and pleasant, love, tenderness and innocence. It has also been associated with optimism, which we see, for example in sentences like “everything is rosy”.
On the other hand, in Catholicism the color pink was used to represent joy, and in some countries also in the West the political use of pink or light red symbolizes socialism.
In addition, the color pink in some eastern countries such as Japan it has an association with eroticism, While in Western Europe it is linked to romantic novels and stories as well as the private environment and intimacy. For its part, in Feng Shui (which links colors to daily activities), pink is linked to marriage and emotional ties.
Rose and gender stereotypes
The above is closely related to Western imaginaries of the feminine, Which ultimately perpetuated a number of gender stereotypes. In this context, the color pink has been linked to values associated with femininity and has had a significant impact on binary gender education.
This is visible, for example, in the entire line of products for girls and women that are presented with this color. From the first toys and the simplest accessories to personal hygiene items, objects of domestic space, or festivities related to motherhood and love.
Regarding the meanings associated with the color pink and its gender differences, Rivera (2001) found that women associate pink with “calm” and with the adjectives “beautiful”, “tender” and “courageous”. For their part, men equated pink with “pig”, “babies”, “sausage”, “meat”, “ugly”, “woman”, “ham”, “nothing” and “horrible”. The participants in her study had in common the association of pink with “tenderness”, “skin”, “girl”, “love” and “cake”.
Some studies of the history of color use indicate that the marked gender symbolism of pink began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Western Europe and the United States; when abandoned nursing homes began to differentiate boys and girls with light blue and pink colors respectively. More recently, sexual revolutions and gender claims, the color pink has gradually changed its uses, Normalize for example that it is taken in male pieces.
- Clarke, T. and Costall, A. (2008). The emotional connotations of color: qualitative research. Color Research and Application, 33 (5): 406-410.
- Heller, I. (2004). Psychology of color. How the colors act on the feelings and the reason. Editorial Gustavo Gili: Spain.
- Koller, V. (2008). “Not just one color”: pink as a marker of gender and sexuality in visual communication. Visual communication, 7 (4): 395-423.
- Llorente, C. (2018). Comparative analysis of chromatic symbolism in advertising. Nike in China and Spain. Vivat Academica. Journal of Communication, 142: 51-78.
- Manav, B. (2007). Emotion color associations and color preferences: a case study for residences. Color Research and Application, 32 (2): 145-151.
- Rivera, MA (2001). Perception and meaning of color in different social groups. Image Magazine, 53: 74-83.