Other namesChromatophobia
A bowl of red strawberries
The fear of the color red is called erythrophobia.

Chromophobia (also known as chromatophobia[1] or chrematophobia[2]) is a persistent, irrational fear of, or aversion to, colors and is usually a conditioned response.[2] While actual clinical phobias to color are rare, colors can elicit hormonal responses and psychological reactions.[3]

Chromophobia may also refer to an aversion of use of color in products or design.[4] Within cellular biology, "chromophobic" cells are a classification of cells that do not attract hematoxylin,[5] and is related to chromatolysis.[6]


Names exist that mean fear of specific colors such as erythrophobia for the fear of red, xanthophobia for the fear of yellow and leukophobia for the fear of white.[2] A fear of the color red may be associated with a fear of blood.[2]


In his book Chromophobia published in 2000, David Batchelor says that in Western culture, color has often been treated as corrupting, foreign or superficial.[7] Michael Taussig states that the cultural aversion to color can be traced back a thousand years,[8] with Batchelor stating that it can be traced back to Aristotle's privileging of line over color.[9]

In a study, hatchling loggerhead sea turtles were found to have an aversion to lights in the yellow wave spectrum which is thought to be a characteristic that helps orient themselves toward the ocean.[10][11] The Mediterranean sand smelt, Atherina hepsetus, has shown an aversion to red objects placed next to a tank while it will investigate objects of other colors.[12] In other experiments, geese have been conditioned to have adverse reactions to foods of a particular color, although the reaction was not observed in reaction to colored water.[13]

The title character in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie has an aversion to the color red caused by a trauma during her childhood[14] which Hitchcock presents through expressionistic techniques, such as a wash of red coloring a close up of Marnie.[15]

The term colorphobia can also be used refer to its literal etymological origin to refer to an apprehension towards image processing on one's vision and its visual perceptual property.[16] However, the term's association with a racial component has been used by public figures such as Frederick Douglass.[17]

Leukophobia often takes the form of a fixation on pale skin. Those with the phobia may make implausible assumptions such as paleness necessarily representing ill health or a ghost.[18] In other cases, leukophobia is directed more towards the symbolic meaning of whiteness, for instance in individuals who associate the color white with chastity and are opposed to or fear chastity.[19] In Paul Beatty's novel Slumberland, leukophobia refers to racism.[20]


Chrysophobia fear of the color orange
Cyanophobia fear of the color blue
Erythrophobia fear of the color red, maroon, and also of blushing
Glaucophobia fear of the color gray
Kastanophobia fear of the color brown
Leukophobia fear of the color white
Melanophobia fear of the color black
Porphyrophobia fear of the color purple
Prasinophobia fear of the color green
Rhodophobia fear of the color pink
Xanthophobia fear of the color yellow

See also


  1. ^ Campbell, Robert Jean (2009). Campbell's Psychiatric Dictionary. Oxford University Press. pp. 186–. ISBN 9780195341591. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Doctor, Ronald M.; Kahn, Ada P.; Adamec, Christine (2009-01-01). The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition. Infobase Publishing. pp. 146–. ISBN 9781438120980. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  3. ^ Ph.D., Gregory Korgeski (2009-11-03). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Phobias. DK Publishing. pp. 232–. ISBN 9781101149546. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  4. ^ Bleicher, Steven (2005). Contemporary Color Theory and Use. Cengage Learning. pp. 17–. ISBN 9781401837402. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  5. ^ Cajal, Santiago R.y (1999-03-02). Texture of the Nervous System of Man and the Vertebrates: I. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 185–. ISBN 9783211830574. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  6. ^ Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 1950.
  7. ^ Galt, Rosalind (2011). Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image. Columbia University Press. pp. 44–. ISBN 9780231153478. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  8. ^ Taussig, Michael (2009-05-01). What Color Is the Sacred?. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226790060. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  9. ^ Ratliff, Jonathan (2009). The Exploration of Color Theory in Museum Education Using Works Found in the J. B. Speed Museum's Collection. ISBN 9781109300321. Retrieved 22 August 2014.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Witherington, Blair E; Bjorndal, Karen A (1991). "Influences of wavelength and intensity on hatchling sea turtle phototaxis: implications for sea-finding behavior". Copeia. 1991 (4). American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists: 1060–1069. doi:10.2307/1446101. JSTOR 1446101.
  11. ^ Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Reports. Florida Marine Research Institute. 1996.
  12. ^ Psychological Bulletin. American Psychological Association. 1911.
  13. ^ Commons, Michael L.; Herrnstein, Richard J.; Wagner, Allan R. (1982). Acquisition. Ballinger Publishing Company. ISBN 9780884107408. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  14. ^ Stromgren, Richard L.; Norden, Martin F. (July 1984). Movies, a language in light. Prentice-Hall. ISBN 9780136043072. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  15. ^ Raubicheck, Walter; Srebnick, Walter (2011). Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie. University of Illinois Press. pp. 53–. ISBN 9780252036484. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  16. ^ Harper, Molly (2009). Nice Girls Don't Live Forever.
  17. ^ Stephens, Gregory (1999). On Racial Frontiers. p. 1.
  18. ^ Robertson, John G. (2003). An Excess of Phobias and Manias: A Compilation of Anxieties, Obsessions, and Compulsions that Push Many Over the Edge of Sanity. Los Angeles: Senior Scribe. p. 114. ISBN 9780963091925.
  19. ^ Adamec, Christine (2009). The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties (3rd ed.). p. 509.
  20. ^ Beatty, Paul (2008). Slumberland. New York: Bloomsbury USA. p. 185. ISBN 9781596912403.