Explaining Crossmodal Correspondences Between Colours and Tastes
Spence C., Levitan CA.
For centuries, if not millennia, people have associated the basic tastes (e.g., sweet, bitter, salty, and sour) with specific colours. While the range of tastes may have changed, and the reasons for wanting to connect the senses in this rather surprising way have undoubtedly differed, there would nevertheless appear to be a surprisingly high degree of consistency regarding this crossmodal mapping among non-synaesthetes that merits further consideration. Traditionally, colour–taste correspondences have often been considered together with odour–colour and flavour–colour correspondences. However, the explanation for these various correspondences with the chemical senses may turn out to be qualitatively different, given the presence of identifiable source objects in the case of food aromas/flavours, but not necessarily in the case of basic tastes. While the internalization of the crossmodal statistics of the environment provides one appealing account for the existence of colour–taste correspondences, emotional mediation may also be relevant. Ultimately, while explaining colour–taste correspondences is of both theoretical and historical interest, the growing awareness of the robustness of colour–taste correspondences would currently seem to be of particular relevance to those working in the fields of design and multisensory experiential marketing.