Research in Japan and France suggests boys with autism spectrum disorder dislike yellow

A research team including Nobuo Masataka, professor at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute, has found that boys with autism spectrum disorder tend not to like yellow but show a preference for green.

“Yellow may tire autistic children. I want people to take this into account when they use the color on signboards and elsewhere,” Masataka said.

The team, also including France’s University of Rennes 1, has confirmed the color preference of boys with the disorder, according to an article recently published in the Swiss journal Frontiers in Psychology.

In the study, the color preference of 29 autistic boys aged 4 to 17 were compared with that of 38 boys without the disorder in the same range of ages. All participants were recruited in France, which has clear diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

Shown cards of six colors — red, blue, yellow, green, brown and pink, the children were asked to answer which color they like.

Yellow was liked by boys without the disorder but far less preferred by autistic boys.

On the other hand, green and brown were liked more by autistic boys than by those without the disorder, while red and blue were favored to similar degrees by both groups of boys. Pink was unpopular in both groups.

The article said yellow has the highest luminance value among the six colors. “The observed aversion to this color might reflect hypersensitivity” of autistic children, the article said.

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