"Aura" synesthesia (projective personality-colour synesthesia)

Personality-colour, person-colour and perceived emotion-to-colour synesthesia can all be called “aura” synesthesia when they are projective rather than associative (i.e. when the concurrent colour perception is seen physically in the real world and not merely in the mind’s eye). A synesthete who projects their perceptions in this way sees one or more colours located around the head or body of the person observed, these being the colours they associate with their personality type or the emotions they intuitively sense that they are feeling.

They may perceive one single colour or, more often, several colours together, which can be more or less intense, layered or in other patterns or may even have texture, shape and/or movement. Different colours tend to be seen for each person observed, although certain colours correspond to determined personality traits they feel the person in question possesses, or to emotions or attitudes they intuitively perceive in the person at that particular time. In this type of synesthesia the emotional aspect is important in general, particularly for the perceiver: in fact it is sometimes referred to as "emotionally mediated synesthesia". For the uncommon case of figurative images rather than colours being visualised in response to people, see this section. For some synesthetes, the “aura” can produce the impression of a taste or a smell.

These synesthetes are usually strongly intuitive people and can have a high degree of sensitivity and empathy. However, it is a type of synesthesia rather than a metaphysical capability and is therefore a different phenomenon from auras reported by clairvoyants (although the cause for what some consider to be mystic auras may often actually be this type of synesthesia; a study by Milán, Iborra et al, Auras in mysticism and synaesthesia: A comparison addresses both types). 

In Sean Day’s study on the prevalence of the different types of synesthesia, it is estimated that 6.5% of synesthetes might have this type and it therefore does not appear to be particularly rare, although part of this percentage is possibly accounted for by associator synesthetes who only “see auras” or perceive the colours in their mind’s eye and who tend to be much more numerous than those who actually physically see their colours projected outside their own body space.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“My synesthesia is projective, so I do actually see the colors in my visual field.

All the colors appear to me as a translucent haze around people, particularly their head and torso. (...) My associations are less with personality as they are with mood or attitude. (...) Yes, I see them both around my limbs and around my head and torso while looking in the mirror.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019.)

“Personality-color and emotion-color for me! The personality is sort of a backdrop for the emotions. Mine are often also around a person’s head. Usually over the shoulders or beside the face.

I’m a child/adolescent licensed counselor, and the emotion and personality colors are a huge asset in counseling sessions.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018.)

"I can see aura. Picture this, you look at someone for a few seconds, a thin layer of colour slowly but surely starts to wrap around their outline and then another on top of that and one more on top of that when at the end you see three colours all around this person, separate yet as one. It could be red or yellow, green, purple, blue, orange. All layered upon each other, I can associate meaning with these colours, and sure enough the person expresses these assigned colours."

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)

SeeSeeMonkeyMee 2018

“A couple of things happen when I’m talking to/looking at someone. When personality is “detected” (when a color is prevalent), it is as though their color becomes an indicator and stays in the background as I’m talking to them. (…) When I’m scanning a room, at a party for example, this (pictured above) is what people look like to me. Not faces, but colors.”

(Source: This comment by the author of the picture above, on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018. )

Some information and scientific studies on this type of synesthesia:

In a recent podcast in her Let's Talk Synaesthesia series, Maike Preissing interviewed Richard Cytowic about this type of synesthesia. You can listen to it here.

This entry in NeuroWiki (discussion forum about neuroscience research with summaries of current research trends and ideas) describes aura synesthesia.


Colored halos around faces and emotion-evoked colors: A new form of synesthesia (Ramachandran et al, 2011)

Auras in mysticism and synaesthesia: A comparison (Milán, Iborra et al, 2011)

Go to the page on person-colour synesthesia

Go to the page on personality-colour synesthesia

Go to the section on the uncommon case of images being projected when looking at people 

Go to the page on perceived emotion-to-colour synesthesia

This page last updated: 21 May 2024


  1. I have this but see it in my mind's eye. It appears as a thick mist around the person. Most of the time its their entire body. Usually it's one color and sometimes its more than one. Green seems to be the most common color but quite a few people have some form of purple, yellow, blue, or gold. Reds, silvers, oranges', whites grays, browns and pinks seem to be rarest. I've only associated silver with one person and it mixed with the jade green mist and the orange mist.

  2. i had that theory for a while, since i am able to see auras around people. at first i believed that was supernatural but (with time and study) i am certain it is only a evolutionary step. being able to sense the mood/pheromones of others and Project them in real vision as colors.
    i sometime belive that animals have the same kind of vision....

  3. Makes complete sense to me!

  4. I feel good to share your witnesses. Have you find interesting ressources about this topic to share please ? ( Movies, books, publications, musics ) Ty 🙏☀️☺️

  5. Yeah that makes a lot of sense. I asked my mom as a child at church, “what are those glowing things around people”? I see it in unanimated objects as well.

    1. Finalmente encontrei alguém que vê o mesmo que eu vejo! Eu vejo em volta de tudo! Não só de pessoas e é o tempo todo. Mas não percebo relação com emoção ou som. Eu só vejo.


  6. What about when people/person gives you tactile and emotional vibes… like I’d say “ their vibe is horrible” but I’m actually feeling pins and disgust. Idk if I’m wording this well enough.

    1. Hi! Thank you for posting about your case. What could be considered a type of synesthesia - probably extremely rare, but it might exist - would be if each person you know, or each personality you perceive when you see or meet someone, was accompanied by the perception of a specific tactile sensation somewhere different in your body. So for example if your neighbour always gives you a tingling sensation in your foot when you think about him, your friend gives you a warm or cold rush of feeling down your chest, another person makes your forearms tingle... especially if those sensations were accompanied by a feeling of a particular colour. Or if you perceived those different tactile sensations on looking at different people in a crowd, even though you don't know them, because your impression of their personality is "coded" into those particular reactions. The tactile sensations would just happen to you when you perceive the person, but you could work out what they meant as they would be the same for people with similar personalities, for example. There isn't a page on person-tactile synesthesia in the Tree because as far as I know no-one's ever reported it, but I think that's the form it would probably take. Feeling a vibe or an emotion for different kinds of people wouldn't be considered synesthesia, and if the physical tactile sensation accompanying the vibe it was the same each time, then that wouldn't be either. To the best of my knowledge, that's how it would be!

  7. I see glowing things around people and objects, but it doesn't link to emotion. It links to the background. Like, on a white bg, its usually pink, yellow, or green. But when its a dark background, it's purple.

    1. I read somewhere it's color perception and background stimuli but I'm still unsure what it specifically is

  8. Wow I happened to be fortunate enough to have a stranger reply to a comment I made sharing something that I've experienced most of my life that nobody else I've met has understood or shared similar experiences honestly I stopped telling others a long time ago about how sometimes I don't see people in the flesh because their whole being becomes a color of light still in the same shape and with same voice still existing and carrying about regularly as though nothing changed and most of the time people give me the annoyed or worried that I'm losing touch with reality because for the life of me I have not been successful articulating a thoroughly comprehensive explanation before, especially the earlier times in life I'd be so freaked out I believe it would stimulate me to a hyper mania level and communicating it to others immediately afterwards wasn't my Forte.