Children’s choice: Color associations in children’s safety sign design

Kin Wai Michael Siu, Mei Seung Lam, Yi Lin Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Color has been more identified as a key consideration in ergonomics. Color conveys messages and is an important element in safety signs, as it provides extra information to users. However, very limited recent research has focused on children and their color association in the context of safety signs. This study thus examined how children use colors in drawing different safety signs and how they associate colors with different concepts and objects that appear in safety signs. Drawing was used to extract children's use of color and the associations they made between signs and colors. The child participants were given 12 referents of different safety signs and were asked to design and draw the signs using different colored felt-tip pens. They were also asked to give reasons for their choices of colors. Significant associations were found between red and ‘don't’, orange and ‘hands’, and blue and ‘water’. The child participants were only able to attribute the reasons for the use of yellow, green, blue and black through concrete identification and concrete association, and red through abstract association. The children's use of color quite differs from that shown in the ISO registered signs. There is a need to consider the use of colors carefully when designing signs specifically for children. Sign designers should take children's color associations in consideration and be aware if there are any misunderstandings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-64
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


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