Lüscher color test

The Lüscher color test is a psychological test invented by Dr. Max Lüscher in Basel, Switzerland. Max Lüscher believed that sensory perception of color is objective and universally shared by all, but that color preferences are subjective, and that this distinction allows subjective states to be objectively measured by using test colors. Lüscher believed that because the color selections are guided in an unconscious manner, they reveal the person as they really are, not as they perceive themselves or would like to be perceived.


Lüscher believed that personality traits could be identified based on one's choice of color. Therefore, subjects who select identical color combinations have similar personalities. In order to measure this, he conducted a test in which subjects were shown 8 different colored cards and asked to place them in order of preference. Colors are divided between "basic" (blue, yellow, red, green) and "auxiliary" (violet, brown, grey, and black).

Blue“Depth of Feeling” passive, concentric, tranquility, calm, tenderness
Green“Elasticity of Will” passive, concentric, defensive, persistence, self-esteem/assertion, pride, control
Red“Force of Will” ex-centric, active aggressive, competitive, action, desire, excitement, sexuality
Yellow“Spontaneity” ex-centric, active, projective, aspiring, expectancy, exhilaration
Violet“Identification” unrealistic/ wishful fulfillment, charm, enchantment
BrownBodily senses, indicates the body's condition
BlackNothingness, renunciation, surrender or relinquishment
GreyNon-involvement and concealment

After subjects placed the cards in order from most liked to least liked, they were asked to evaluate the extent to which their personalities matched the descriptive statements formed by Lüscher of each color.

The results of the Lüscher-Color-Diagnostic contain indications pertaining to personal assessment and special, professional recommendations as to how psychological stress and the resulting physical symptoms can be avoided. It also offers additional information for verbal and homeopathic therapy.


The validity of the color test has been questioned. It may be an example of the Barnum effect,[3] where an ostensible personality analysis (actually consisting of vague generalities applicable to the majority of people) is reported to be accurate by subjects who had completed a personality test before reviewing their 'results'. A 1984 comparison of the Lüscher color test and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory found little agreement between the two tests, prompting the authors to urge cautious use of the former.[4] Today, the MMPI is being used as a more valid assessor of personality. Some stand up for the Lüscher color test as providing high accuracy in a non-verbal test involving as few as eight colors, especially in children.[3]

Selected papers (English only)

  • Adels G. H., Validation of the Luscher-Color-Test as a screening instrument for emotional disturbance in schoolchildren, Diss. Boston University 1978;
  • Braun, Claude M.J; Bonta, James L (1979). "Cross-Cultural Validity, Reliability, and Stimulus Characteristics of the Luscher Color Test". Journal of Personality Assessment. 43 (5): 459–60. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa4305_3. PMID 512812.
  • Holmes, Cooper B; Buchannan, Jo Ann; Dungan, David S; Reed, Teresa (1986). "The Barnum effect in Luscher color test interpretation". Journal of Clinical Psychology. 42: 133–6. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(198601)42:1<133::AID-JCLP2270420122>3.0.CO;2-7.
  • Klar H., Opium smokers and the psychological and emotional changes after smoking. Medico, Boehringer Mannheim, 1964, N. 1;
  • Klar H., Obesity in the Light of the Colour Test, Riv.Medico, Boehringer Mannheim, 1961, N.3;
  • Kopp, Maria S (1984). "Electrodermal characteristics in psychosomatic patient groups". International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2 (2): 73–85. doi:10.1016/0167-8760(84)90001-1. PMID 6542917.
  • Kopp, M. S; Korányi, L (1982). "Autonomic and psychologic correlates in hypertension and duodenal ulcer". The Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science. 17 (4): 178–87. doi:10.1007/bf03001272 (inactive 1 December 2019). PMID 7155647.
  • Lie N., A prospective-longitudinal study of adolescents: A review of projective methods selected for epidemiological research. Stockholm: Karolinska Institutet, 1979 (Lüscher-Test pp103–123); OCLC 186952685
  • Lie, Nils; Ford, C. V (1988). "Boys who became offenders". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 77 (S342): 1–122. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1988.tb10569.x. PMID 3044011.
  • Lie, N. (1994). "Offenders tested with projective methods prior to the first offense". British Journal of Projective Psychology. 39 (1): 23–34.
  • Lie, N.; Murarasu, D. (1996). "Prediction of criminality with the Lüscher Color Test. Is the Lüscher Color Test a possible instrument". Journal of Preventive Medicine. 4 (1): 47–51.
  • Lie, N.; Haeggernes, A. (1997). "Precriminal personality traits: A 20-year follow-up of boys and girls, who became lawbreakers". Buletin de Pshiatrie Integrativa. 3: 59–68.
  • Murarasu D. Cosma M., The Psycho-social Relationships evaluated by Lüscher-Color-Test applied in subjects having predominant neuropsychical tasks. Institut of Medical Research, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania;
  • Schutt D., Perceived Accuracy of Luscher Color Test Interpretation Ratings. California State University Los Angeles, 1999. 1544 Catalina Ave, Pasadena CA 91104-2406, USA
  • Picco, Richard D; Dzindolet, Mary T (2016). "Examining the Lüscher Color Test". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 79 (3 Pt 2): 1555–8. doi:10.2466/pms.1994.79.3f.1555. PMID 7870544.
  • Donnelly, Frank A (2016). "The Luscher Color Test: A Validity Study". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 44: 17–18. doi:10.2466/pms.1977.44.1.17.


  1. Hoss, Robert and Hoffman, Curtiss. Does Dream Color Reflect Emotion? A Long Term Journaling study(pdf), International ASD Psiber Dreaming Conference 2004, International Association for the Study of Dreams.
  2. "The Lüscher Color Test". Sewanee University. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  3. Badalian, L. O; Mastiukova, E. M; Korabel'Nikova, E. A (1995). "The use of the Lüscher color test for assessing the emotional status of children and adolescents with an organic central nervous system lesion and borderline psychopathology". Zhurnal Nevrologii I Psikhiatrii Imeni S.S. Korsakova. 95 (5): 44–7. PMID 8585376.
  4. Holmes, C. B; Wurtz, P. J; Waln, R. F; Dungan, D. S; Joseph, C. A (1984). "Relationship between the Luscher Color Test and the MMPI". Journal of Clinical Psychology. 40 (1): 126–8. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(198401)40:1<126::AID-JCLP2270400123>3.0.CO;2-A. PMID 6746918.

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