What Your Car Color May Say About You

Ever wondered if your choice of car color reflects your personality? A recent study suggests a link between car color and personality.

While a plethora of reasons factor into a car purchase such as price, model, availability and fuel efficiency, new (and somewhat dubious) research claims that the car color you pick factors into your personality type.

U.S. News & World Report recently lifted the hood on some interesting findings from CNW Marketing Research.

CNW asked nearly 1,900 Americans about their attitudes toward their own lives at several points over the course of a year and the color of the car they drive most often, thus inspiring the creation of a "color-confidence index."

The index found that people who drive emerald-green autos, for instance, have the most positive outlook while owners of red autos are supposedly aggressive. Black cars, "a sign of power and elegance," are claimed to be driven by the most downbeat drivers of all.

Does this color confidence index have any merit?

Anyone familiar with the fiction of Stephen King can attest that the color red for a car does, in fact, mean aggression. But I wouldn't describe Michael Knight from famed TV series Knight Rider as "downbeat" especially since he often spoke cheerily to his black car named Kitt. CNW findings also equate white cars to average dispositions. Herbie from Disney's beloved classic The Love Bug is average? We beg to differ!

It's easy to have fun with this and poke holes in what seems to be some pretty flimsy, albeit interesting, research. Indeed, others have already weighed in on the CNW report with similar amusing observations.

For instance, this comes from Top Gear:

. . .if your dentist drives a 599 GTB in Rosso Corsa red, be afraid. Mainly because you're paying him too much. Just one more question, CNW: What does an Aston in full orange-on-blue livery say about us? It'd better be good. . .

Not so fast, though. There has been plenty of valid scientific research done on the psychology of color. InfoPlease has constructed a handy "Color Psychology" summation that matches the CNW findings:

  • Red is deemed the most intense color;

  • Black "implies submission";

  • White is light and neutral;

  • Blue produces "calming" chemicals; and

  • Green is both "calming" and "refreshing."

For the most part, these mood descriptions match nicely to the CNW findings.

And if we are to cross-reference car color popularity according to DuPont, America's mood is about to change. The company's Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, which has dissected car color trends for the past 55 years, indicates that for the first time this decade, white has taken over silver as the most popular car color.

DuPont attributes white's popularity to customized offerings, "especially with white pearl," according to Karen Surcina, color marketing and technology manager at DuPont. "White pearl is a specialty process," she said. "It has three coats. Most colors have two coats, so it is a specialized process."

As for silver dropping down a notch, Cincinnati-based NBC News Web site WLWT recently spoke to a color specialist whose comments connect to the mood of the nation during the late 1990s, the time when silver ruled the roost:

"All the things that were going on with technology in the late '90s — the sleek, clean, cool, high-tech look — it really translated into what people were looking for in their cars," said Kate Smith, who started the company Sensational Color. She works with corporations and individual clients by helping them select colors that will elicit a favorable response to their products. "So, as all colors that we are attracted to do, it plays off of our emotions and our story about ourselves."

According to the WLWT news story, automakers use DuPont's study as one way to predict future trends. DuPont says that as globalization grows, there will be more similarities in car color choices around the world.

"One of the things that we understand as an industry is the globalization of color, and so vehicles that are being produced on that continent aren't necessarily just being sold on that continent any longer," said Surcina. "And so the automakers are working to develop a palette that can be sold worldwide."

We'd be curious to know if your car color matches your psychological outlook based on the index. Let us know in the Comments section below.


What Your Car Color Reveals About Your Psyche

by Rick Newman

U.S. News & World Report, May 12, 2008

True Colours

by Sam Philip

Top Gear, May 16, 2008

Color Psychology

by David Johnson


Drivers' Desire For Car Colors Changes

by Craig Clough

NBC News (WLWT), June 13, 2008

55th DuPont Report Says White Now Outranks Silver As Top Choice in Some Countries

DuPont (via AutoBlog.com), Dec. 4, 2007

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