Colors Dictate Online Image Sharing, Study Claims

Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?), 1892. Photo: courtesy the Beyeler Foundation.
Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?), 1892. Photo courtesy of the Beyeler Foundation.

A recent study investigating the relationship between online image sharing and color has found that pictures featuring the colors red, pink, and purple are the most likely to be shared, Gizmodo reported.

The study, published in the online academic journal PLoS ONE, analyzed what colors are the most popular on the online image sharing platform Pinterest. As part of the investigation, researchers randomly selected one million images from the site to determine which colors garnered the most ‘repins.’

“We find that color significantly impacts the diffusion of images and adoption of content on image sharing communities such as Pinterest,” commented the researchers.

The authors found that images featuring hues of red, pink and purple are the most shared, while images featuring green, blue, black, and yellow are least likely to be shared. But they researchers also acknowledged that the results may be skewed by Pinterest’s predominantly female user-base.

“Our work echoes the findings of earlier text-based studies: emotional activation is an important underlying diffusion driver within online social networks,” commented the researchers. “In other words, we claim that online content that evokes specific emotions are often more viral. In color theory, purple and red are known as colors that elicit feelings of arousal (either in positive or negative direction), and our results reinforce this.”

“For practitioners rather than theorists, our findings shed light on how to construct viral content,” the continued. “Although we don’t claim that every image draped in red or purple will be shared significantly more, on average, warm and exciting colors seem to affect the recipient’s likelihood of sharing the image. Our results suggest that using warm, saturated colors can increase chances of diffusion compared to images with cool and relaxing themes.”


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