The present study investigates the hypothesis that brightness of colors is associated with positivity, postulating that this is an automatic and universal effect. The Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) was used in all studies. Study 1 used color patches varying on brightness, Study 2 used achromatic stimuli to eliminate the potential confounding effects of hue and saturation. Study 3 replicated Study 2 in a different cultural context (Japan vs. Austria), both studies also included a measure of explicit association. All studies confirmed the hypothesis that brightness is associated with positivity, at a significance level of p <.001 and Cohen's D varying from 0.90 to 3.99. Study 1–3 provided support for the notion that this is an automatic effect. Additionally, Study 2 and Study 3 showed that people also have an explicit association of brightness with positivity. However, as expected, our results also show that the implicit association was stronger than the explicit association. Study 3 shows clear support for the universality of our effects. In sum, our results support the idea that brightness is associated with positivity and that these associations are automatic and universal.
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