Personality-colour synesthesia

Personality-colour is a fairly rare type of synesthesia where a colour perception is triggered by the impression of the personality of people the synesthete is seeing or meeting for the first time. The process is automatic and involuntary, immediate and consistent, i.e. the same personality traits observed give rise to the same colours, according to each synesthete’s unique coding. Like all visual synesthesias it can be associative or projective, so while some synesthetes (associators) perceive the colours in their mind’s eye or just in the form of a strong impression, others (projectors) actually see them physically. In this latter case, the colours tend to appear floating above or near the person observed or around their head in the form of a halo or “aura”, so projective personality-colour synesthesia is often referred to as “aura synesthesia”.  Go to the page on aura synesthesia

Related synesthesia types: person-colour and perceived emotion-to-colour

Another type of synesthesia that is similar to personality-colour in many aspects but different in others and much more common is person-colour, where the synesthete only sees or perceives colours for people they already know (friends, family etc.).  Go to the page on person-colour synesthesia.

There is also another type that shows similarities with personality-colour synesthesia and can coexist with it, giving rise to mixes or combinations of colours: perceived emotion-to-colour synesthesia, which is triggered by the emotions intuitively perceived in the person being observed.  Go to the page on perceived emotion-to-colour synesthesia

Personality-colour synesthesia is only triggered by the sensed or perceived personality of the person being observed: it is not triggered by their physical appearance or by the synesthete’s relationship with that person (as is the case for person-colour), or by emotions they perceive them to be feeling. It is triggered as soon as the synesthete sees or meets the person in question and changes as they get to know them better, with more colours, more nuances, a richer pallet and perhaps slight variations as time goes by.

People with a strongly-expressed synesthesia of this type (basically projector synesthetes) often say they feel confused and overloaded by the huge amounts of colours they see when they enter a crowded place such as a shopping centre or a packed event.

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

I associate peoples personalities with colors. People have multiple colors. In fact, most people have 4-6. No one has the same combination and upon seeing them, I can immediately tell their dominant color. As I talk to them I can begin to read their undertones as well. I can also kind of tell people's colors over text as well though it is a little harder to tell and is less accurate. I use 11 colors in my scale and each corresponds to general traits. Red is dominance, orange is humour, yellow is peacemaking, green is friendship, blue is empathy, indigo is creativity, purple is an analytical perspective (think engineering), black is tramua, white is chivalry, pink is youth, brown is protectiveness, and grey is neutrality/unbiased viewpoint. Each person's colors will be variations of these basic traits based on the tone, shade, or hue of the color. Its not limited to living people either. Characters in books or movies also have colors, albeit usually less than a living person though.”

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)


In my situation it has manifested itself in music/colors for my entire life, as well as sight/colors that surround people. It is very hard for me to enter a large room with many people because of the color overload. My first visit to Times Square was almost too overwhelming! In the Sistine Chapel I had to close my mind to the crowd and concentrate on the ceiling to avoid overload.”

(Source: a comment in the blog Colourful Language. 2009.)

Related synesthesia types:

Person-colour (people you know – friends, family, etc. – trigger a colour concurrent)

Aura synesthesia (projective personality-colour synesthesia)

Perceived emotion-colour/smell/taste/touch (for emotions observed in other people)

Personality-smell and personality-taste

 This page is about personality-color synesthesia

This page is about personality-colour synaesthesia

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