Cultural colors of emotion and character

Posted to Data Art  |  Nathan Yau

Some colors represent different things in different parts of the world, while others are universal. For example, in movies, villains are almost always portrayed in black and passion is going to bring out the red. But what about death? American culture usually calls for black. Hindu calls for white. David McCandless and Always With Honor explore these differences.

[Thanks, @augustjoki]


  • I love the idea behind this visualization, but the execution falls short of being helpful in seeing patterns in the data. It attempts at aesthetics, rather than making a visualization that brings out the interesting things within the data. Any idea if the data has been made publicly available?

  • just to be fair, this was designed for the cover of david’s book, so it’s more about aesthetics here.

    i don’t think they posted the data, but i’m sure if you asked david, he’d be happy to provide it :)

  • morandimus April 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    This would be more interesting if it were more complete, and maybe also if it were simpler… there is a lot of overlap here (Nature & Life, for example).

  • Love this graphics. I think it is not that useful as an infographics, but just like Nathan said, it is all about aesthetics.

  • Reminds me of the 30 Rock episode where Liz is walking around wearing a (white) wedding dress, and everyone is asking “Oh no, did a Korean person die?”

  • I’d like it if the numbered labels around the outside of the ring were replaced with the actual text of the legend. Seems like it wouldn’t take up too much more space, and moving my eyeballs back and forth from the legend to the ring makes my brain hurt. But it is very interesting.

  • Doug Valenta April 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Is there a reason why this is round?

  • i love the idea and the research behind. however the legend is not accurate enough. eg, “south american” is vague to say the least (i dont know if the author refers to pre-columbian). in the same fashion, “western/american” is a redundancy.

  • Jeff Jetton May 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I gotta say that I echo some of the sentiment so far. Looks great. Interesting underlying information. But the presentation is, quite frankly, a clunker.

    I say make the thing a rectangular grid and ditch the legend in favor of just putting the labels on the data. The slight amount you lose in prettiness will be more than made up for in actual usability. And, cover or no cover, shouldn’t that be the point?

    – Jeff


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