Cross-modal associations between real tastes and colors

Supreet Saluja, Richard J. Stevenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    People make reliable and consistent matches between taste and color. However, in contrast to other cross-modal correspondences, all of the research to date has used only taste words (and often color words too), potentially limiting our understanding of how taste-color matches arise. Here, participants sampled the 5 basic tastes, at 3 concentration steps, and selected their best matching color from a color wheel. This test was repeated, and in addition, participants evaluated the valence of the taste and their color choice, as well as the qualities/intensities of the taste stimuli. Participants were then presented with taste names and asked to generate the best matching color name, as well as reporting how they made their earlier choices. Color selections were reliable and consistent and closely followed those based on taste word matches obtained in this and prior studies. Most participants reported basing their color choices on their associated taste-object (often foods). There was marked similarity in valence between taste and color choices, and the saturation of color choices was related to tastant concentration. We discuss what drives color-taste pairings, with learning suggested as one possible mechanism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-480
    Number of pages6
    JournalChemical Senses
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2018


    • gustation
    • color,
    • cross-modal

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