Color preferences in gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Deborah L. Wells, Claire L. McDonald, Janice E. Ringland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Color plays an important biological role in the lives of many animals, with some species exhibiting preferences for certain colors over others. This study explored the color preferences of two species of ape, which, like humans, possess trichromatic color vision. Six western lowland gorillas, and six chimpanzees, housed in Belfast Zoological Gardens, were exposed to three stimuli (cloths, boxes, sheets of acetate) in red, blue, and green. Six stimuli of the same nature, in each of the three colors, were provided to both species for 5 days per stimulus. The amount of interest that the animals showed toward each stimulus of each color was recorded for 1 hr. Results showed that the apes, both when analyzed as two separate groups, and when assessed collectively, showed significant color preferences, paying significantly less attention to the red-, than to the blue- or green-colored stimuli. The animals' interest in the blue- and green-colored stimuli did not differ significantly. Overall, the findings suggest that gorillas and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, may harbor color preferences comparable to those of humans and other species. © 2008 American Psychological Association.


Reaxys Database Information|

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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